Family Law Blog

Can You Face Jail Time For Unpaid Spousal and Child Support?

Friday, March 22, 2019

stack of money sitting under gavel on table

Let's face it, you may be okay financially supporting your children, but no one really wants to give their hard-earned money to an ex-spouse after they divorced. Sometimes, it may feel like even though you only pay child support, that your ex-spouse is using that for their own fun money. However, if the courts have ordered you to pay a certain amount for a certain amount of time, you have to do it or you could find yourself behind bars.

If you simply decide to stop paying spousal or child support that was awarded to your ex-spouse by your divorce court, their best option is to take you back to court. You will be served with a contempt of court notice that demands you appear in court and state why you haven't paid. If you fail to appear at this hearing, they will place a warrant out for your arrest.

However, once you get into that courtroom, do realize there is a big difference between "won't pay" and "can't pay" your support payments. If you demonstrate that it has been causing you financial hardship to make these payments, you likely won't go to jail and your payments will be amended. However, if you are maliciously withholding payments, depending on the amount owed, you may face jail time for it.

The small amount of good news is that you are not a hardened criminal. Awhile back in 2012 there was a case against NBA Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman for non-payment of child and spousal support. He owed around $850,000 to his ex-wife but was only facing a punishment of 20 days in jail for not paying it. This is not to say that you won't face more time, or 20 days in jail is a small amount to pay for not paying support, but rather it is that you won't face years in jail for non-payment as this isn't a particularly heinous crime.

If you have perhaps neglected support payments or a spouse isn't paying you what was owed, contact us today. Let the Law Office of Jamra & Jamra help you.

Should Gifts of Cash be Included in Spousal Support Calculations?

Thursday, March 14, 2019

husband and wife discussing alimony with lawyer

When it comes to spousal support, not every amount of income comes from what you make from a job. For some, their income includes regular monetary gifts from family. While if these funds come from something like a trust it will definitely be counted in the spousal support calculations if a family member regularly just sends you infusions of cash, that infusion could be counted in your income as well.

Take, for example, a husband is receiving regular $500 checks from his parents every month. They may be giving it to him as an early inheritance or because they simply need financial support. As it is a gift from a family member, it doesn't seem like it would be counted as income, but that is not so. If the couple is divorcing and the wife wants that monthly monetary gift counted in spousal support, her lawyer can argue that because they were made on a monthly basis, the payments qualify as a steady stream of income. The lawyer would then have to document a timeline that these gifts were made regularly for at least a few years and suggest that they would continue to be a regular occurrence in your ex-spouse's income.

If the family member making the gifts decides to cover and say they would no longer send the money but still did, the spousal support award could also be modified in the future to include the funds if the proper proof was provided. Typically, this proof would come from bank statements if you suspect that they are still receiving payments.

If you are filing for divorce, it is a tough and uncertain time. Let us help you through it and make sure you get what is rightfully yours. Contact us today to see how Jamra & Jamra can help you.

Is Spousal Support Necessary If You Both Have Careers

Thursday, December 13, 2018

The funny thing about most areas of the law is that many people don't know the specifics of them until they need to. Divorce law is no exception. When you get married, you might not want to think about it, and it can end up costing you later if the relationship falls apart. One of the many specifics that people don't know much about is the issue of spousal support.

Some may think that no matter their situation, they are owed spousal support from the other party for one of many reasons. Maybe their spouse cheated on them, and they feel they are owed something for it. Unfortunately, that just isn't how spousal support works.

In the simplest terms, spousal support is meant to be support for a spouse. For example, if a woman dropped out of college to become a stay-at-home mother, if she were to get divorced 10 years down the line, she may not have the work skills of a woman her age to sufficiently support herself after the divorce. Spousal support is meant to help spouses of fewer means get self-sufficient again.

For those that signed prenuptial agreements, spousal support payments can last a lifetime, but typically they are temporary. It could be a few years, but spousal support is designed to support a spouse until they can find employment. This means that if you are a divorcing couple and both have well-paying jobs, there may not actually be a need for spousal support.

In fact, a couple that both have careers may simply need to split the marital assets and be done with it. Child support and custody will need to be addressed if they had children, but otherwise, spousal support is likely to be a non-issue.

If you are divorcing and wish to learn more about your options, contact us today.

How Does Child Support Effect Spousal Support

Friday, November 23, 2018

If you are divorcing, there are two types of payments you can receive. One is child support that is meant to support the raising of children as a primary caregiver and the second in spousal support that is meant to support the less financially-stable spouse as they seek employment to live independently. However, the question is, does receiving one affect your ability to receive the other?

In most cases, no, it does not. In fact, if you are the primary caregiver of children, receiving child support can actually mean a better spousal support payment. Say, for example, you gave up your career to raise your children. If you later decided to become divorced, the courts may not want to interrupt the child care that the child is used to and order your ex-spouse to support you with spousal support until the child comes of age. During this time, the courts suggest you also attend school so you can gain employment later. However, the trade off here is that the spousal support will have a notable expiration date that could be later or sooner than your standard spousal support grant.

However, in an alternate situation, if you receive spousal support, it will never mean that you are barred from child support either. Child support, while it can be used to pay things that benefit both parent and child like rent or groceries, is used to support the child and not the parent. Spousal support is awarded to support the spouse while they seek employment to become independent. Typically this means some sort of vocational training. As these two payments are supposed to be used for different things, there is no way that they can affect each other. If you end up with high payments from both, your ex-spouse may insist on a modification, but it is rare they will be done away with just because you are receiving the other payment.

If you are going through a divorce and need help, contact us today.

Can Spousal Support Be Extended?

Thursday, September 13, 2018

After a marriage is dissolved via divorce, often the separating parties agree on a payment between them at the end of the marriage. In spousal support, one spouse agrees to pay the other spouse a certain sum in order to support them during the transition to single life. In most cases, these payments are designed to support the spouse until they become independent, but what happens if spousal support runs out and you still cannot support yourself, can you get it extended?

Spousal support is divided into three categories - Rehabilitative, Permanent, and Lump-Sum. A lump-sum payment is paid all at once and thus no recurring payments are necessary. Rehabilitative payments are made so the ex-spouse can seek employment or finish college in order to become self-supporting. Finally, permanent spousal support payments are common after long marriages where the ex-spouse did not have the ability to develop skills in order to seek employment.

In both lump-sum and permanent spousal support, an extension won't be needed. However, when a spousal support agreement is agreed upon by the divorcing couple or put in place by the courts, they often come with modification clauses. These clauses can mean no modification - thus no extension - is possible or can only be modified if certain criteria are met. In most cases, modification clauses are used so that one party doesn't get taken advantage of. For example, if an ex-spouse is gainfully employed, the spousal support may be modified so that it can be stopped because they no longer need it. However, this modification can work the other way if one spouse has not found employment and needs an extension.

If you are divorcing and want to make sure spousal support will be in place to take care of you, contact us today. Let us help you get the best possible outcome from your divorce.

Will Adultery Affect Spousal Support in California?

Friday, May 18, 2018

There are many preconceived notions about divorce that we often learn from TV and other media. One of those notions is that if you cheat on your spouse, you are going to pay for it in the divorce. However, while this may be true in some states, it is not necessarily true in California.

California, like many states, is a no-fault state when it comes to divorce. This means that nobody is to blame for the divorce no matter what their actions were. What they did will not affect the granting of the divorce or how much you get for it.

However, while a judge cannot take adultery or other bad behavior into consideration when it comes to whether or not to award spousal support, they will look at your financial situation. As an example, let us say that a husband and wife are divorcing because of adultery. The husband actually earns much less than his wife, which makes him eligible for earning spousal support. However, the husband was adulterous and before divorce litigation is over, he moves in with his new mistress. This act will cost him heavily, not because of his sleazy behavior, but because his financial circumstances have changed.

Spousal support is meant to very literally "support" your "spouse" after a divorce. If the husband in the above example earned less but was now supported by his mistress, he may now not be able to collect spousal support because he doesn't actually need any support.

This means if you are considering a divorce in California, the judge might not really care if your spouse cheated on you. However, they will care about the state of everyone's finances. In adultery cases, judges will also highly scrutinize a couple's finances to see if they discover one party is already in another relationship. Often, they suspect that finances may have been moved, hidden, or given as expensive gifts to a new paramour. If you are going through a divorce and need help, contact us today.

What Conditions Allow for Termination of Spousal Support?

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Spousal support was designed and put in place to help half of a divorcing couple get back on their feet after a separation. In many marriages, there is one spouse who earns more and one who earns less for a variety of reasons. Perhaps one spouse decided to stay home and care for the children, leaving them without income and work experience in the event of a divorce. However, spousal support is not forever. It has the ability to be modified and even terminated. However, what are the conditions for termination when it comes to spousal support?

Spousal support termination can be achieved through a variety of different conditions. These conditions include:

  • Self-Sufficiency Through Employment - Once the spouse receiving spousal support payments has obtained a job that allows them to be self-supporting, it can be petitioned by the courts to terminate or otherwise modify spousal support. However, even if a spouse is employed doesn't mean they are receiving enough to support themselves fully.
  • Getting Re-Married - Getting re-married is automatic ground for termination when it comes to spousal support. However, never try to game the system by putting off marriage. Courts will agree to termination if you are simply cohabitating with a romantic partner as well.
  • Retirement - If the paying party is ready to retire, they can request that spousal support be terminated or reduced in order to match their lower retirement income. However, the paying party must be retirement age or otherwise unable to work. They cannot retire early for the purpose of eliminating spousal support payments.

If you are seeking to modify spousal support payments or are getting divorced and want spousal support on the table, contact us today. Let the Law Office of Jamra & Jamra help get you the results you desire.

Spouse is Employed, But No Spousal Support is Being Paid

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

After a divorce, spousal support is put in place to help you restart your life. However, while there are exceptions made for spouses that lost their jobs for reasons beyond their control, if your spouse is employed, they should be paying. Perhaps you gave them a little leeway in terms of payment, but what do you do after a few reminders haven't manifested in payment?

 If spousal support payment is not being made, your only most effective option is to return to court, but even then receiving payment is not a guarantee. While your spouse may be employed, sometimes the court will state that they do not have the funds to adhere to their spousal support payment, particularly if there is a substantial amount past due. However, a judge may initiate any of the following to see that payment is followed through.

  • Wage garnishment
  • Offsets of tax returns
  • Garnishment of retirement accounts
  • Spousal support reduced to a money judgment
  • Suspension of passport, driver's license, or professional license until payment is made

If your ex-spouse has the funds in order to be paying their spousal support, all of the above will be used by the court to make sure they pay you what is due. If they have been consciously withholding payment while also having the means to pay it, you may also receive past due payments to help make you whole.

If you are getting divorced or have an ex-spouse that is not making spousal support payments on time, contact us today. Let the Law Firm of Jamra & Jamra help make sure you get the spousal support that you need so you can get back on your feet after a divorce.