A Reality Check
I have been practicing law for almost 30 years. Lately I have become increasingly frustrated with the practice of family law. As an attorney I strive to assist my clients through a very difficult time in their lives. Whether you have experienced the emotional turmoil of a divorce or know someone who has, it is not difficult to understand the many issues which must be addressed. Often times, no matter how hard an attorney works for his client, certain results cannot be achieved. More often than not it is beyond the control of an attorney, since he/she is just one piece of the puzzle.
In the past few months I have been contacted by several clients who have been divorced for several years. They were able to settle their case and move on with their lives. Each of these clients was extremely satisfied with the settlement they achieved during my representation. They had closure to a difficult situation and they were no longer worried about their financial security. Each of these clients (all ex wives) was to receive alimony and child support. They each felt that they could move on with their lives. In addition, I believe that their former husbands also felt that their Agreements were fair.
The reality of life soon set in. Due to a number of various reasons their former spouses could no longer honor their financial obligations. As a result homes slipped into foreclosure, private school for minor children became an unaffordable luxury and plans for the future disappeared. So what can be done? Motions for contempt have been filed and the discovery process has begun. We are now searching for assets which can be used to fulfill these obligations that were previously agreed to. There is however an old saying and that is “you can’t get blood from a stone”. Contempt will not be granted unless it can be shown that the non payment is “willful”. It must be proven to a judge that the individual had the funds but elected not to pay either child support or alimony. We are all aware that the economy has affected a great many people. Many people who agreed to pay a support obligation can no longer meet that obligation due to a loss of income or a loss of employment. So in spite of a successful negotiation at the time the divorce was filed, which led to a fair and equitable Agreement; both parties are essentially back to “square one”. There lies the frustration. No matter how hard an attorney tries to achieve a favorable result for his/her client, sometimes circumstances are beyond our control.
If the economy continues to weaken, I suspect I will see more and more of these types of situations.
For answers from an experienced divorce lawyer about alimony and spousal support, email us or call my office at 954-385-9160. Let us explain how we can help you through the complicated process.