Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Victime#47: Unbelievable!!! And You Thought It Couldn't Happen In America

Hello friends,

I have a question on behalf of my good friend, XXXX that I hope somebody can answer.

Quick background: He finally got his judgment on his alimony modification in June. Judge said no reduction in alimony. In addition XXXX was ordered to 90 days in jail unless he comes up with $250,000 (he could probably come up with $2,500, but certainly not $250,000!), must surrender his passport, must sign a mortage on his home to benefit the ex-wife, must assign 100% of his income to his ex-wife (effectively for the rest of his life, since he earns $48,000 per year and his alimony is $200,000 per year). Must pay $727,000 in arrears to ex-wife, must pay $187,000 to ex-wife's attorney.

Current status: XXXX's attorneys have been arguing with the court regarding its authority to issue such draconian orders, many of which violate his constitutional rights and exceed the power of the court. The court came back last week with its latest judgment retracting only that it will not order XXXX to sign a mortgage to his ex-wife. There is however a judicial lien against the property, which is listed with a broker and which he has been trying to sell this summer. The house is his only remaining asset.

XXXX has to go before the judge again on August 25. It sounds like he will have to go to jail at this point for 90 days.

His question: He is worried about what will happen to his wife and children while he is in jail. His wife is self-employed and he is worried that the court might try to disrupt his wife's business or attach her income in some way. I told him that as far as I know, the court can look at her information, and consider her income when making a judgment, but can only make orders against him and his assets. Is this true?

This is my own question: It seems to me that he cannot be determined to be in contempt of court and placed in jail if he does not have the ability to pay. Jail is a penalty for wilfully disobeying the court and cannot be used in a punative manner. Can he fight this and get released somehow? 90 days is a long time for an innocent man to sit behind bars.