Results 1 to 5 of 5
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    3

    Exclamation Alimony and Contempt of Court - Can They Really Force You to Work

    My question involves divorce in the State of: Colorado

    I'm not even sure where to begin... but I'll try and explain the situation as much as I can.

    After 25+ years of marriage, in 2007, my mother filed for divorce from my dad.

    In 2003, my dad made multiple millions of dollars and started winding down the company he owns and went into semi-retirement... basically he only handled business stuff that he couldn't defer to the next person in charge. Worked a couple days a week, basically.

    Unfortunately, the business my dad is in was heavily effected by the mortgage crisis and the downturn in the economy, and coupled with paying his legal fees, my mom's legal fees, and an investment that went sour, it severely damaged the families financial situation. Suffice to say, it hasn't been possible to pay back loans/mortgages in some time... and to make matters worse, throughout the divorce my mom was getting around $300,000 pre-tax in monthly payments. And that was just living expenses, and none of it went to maintain any of the assets we have... so my dad was stuck paying all of the loans.

    Someone very early on convinced my mom that my dad must be hiding money from her. (Despite the fact that it was my mom who initiated the divorce, and my dad fought and did everything he could to keep them together and change her mind.)

    My mom's first two attorneys and forensic accountants came to the conclusion that there was no money hidden. So she hired another, who came to the same conclusion. And then she hired a third, who unfortunately saw an opportunity and decided to take my mom for the ride of her life.

    In a matter of months my mom ran up just under a million dollars in fees, my dad's being about 1/5 of that. At one of the hearings, the judge literally said "Get your head out of the sand" and advised her to renegotiate her fees. Instead of doing that, she gave her attorney's a judgement for the full amount.

    The judge awarded my mom an insane amount of alimony every month, and gave her most of the assets, and left my dad with all of the debt. He thought that my dad should go back to work and would be capable of making the same amount of money again... despite the fact that there would be no way for him to get capital due to multiple loans being months overdue and credit down the toilet.

    My dad does not have the money to pay any of the loans or the mortgage on the real estate that we own that has been on the market for almost a year.

    Bottom line, my dad can't pay the alimony. All of his money has gone towards her alimony (over $10,000 a month after tax), but he is out of money, and is now $15,000 behind on the payments.

    My mom (who I should mention is extremely unstable) has initiated a contempt of court hearing, and asked the judge to incarcerate my father.

    My dad spoke with an extremely high profile criminal defense attorney to see what they thought and what his options were. They had never seen anything like it before, and frankly couldn't offer any advice.

    This seems absolutely insane and illegal constitutionally under the 13th amendment since he has never been convicted of any crime. I realize contempt of court is a crime, but if they contempt of court stems from the court ordering him to work involuntarily, doesn't that still count?

    My question is this:

    How is it legally allowed for a judge to order someone to pay alimony, and if they have no money to pay it, order them to go out and find a $400,000 a year job, or incarcerate them?

    My other question is... does anyone here have any advice on the situation or ever heard of anything like this before? All the lawyers involved are frankly dumbfounded by what is happening and don't have experience with this happening... ever.

    I apologize in advance if I left any important information out. If any additional information is needed, let me know and I can answer. Thank you in advance for any help/advice. I'm extremely depressed and distraught right now at the thought that my dad could end up in jail because of this, and there doesn't seem to be a way out. It makes no sense.

    -Troubles

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Somewhere near Canada
    Posts
    35,894

    Default Re: Alimony and Contempt of Court - Can They Really Force You to Work

    Yes, it's legal to order someone to pay alimony based upon their earning potential.

    If Mom gets $10k/month and he's only behind $15k, I cannot see him actually being jailed at this point...not over a single month.

    What he needs to do is get back to court to try and modify the order....assuming that it is modifiable and assuming that it was made at least a year ago.

    A criminal defense attorney is not the type of attorney he needs, btw - he needs a damn good family law attorney who is familiar with high-profile divorce cases.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: Alimony and Contempt of Court - Can They Really Force You to Work

    Quote Quoting Dogmatique
    View Post
    Yes, it's legal to order someone to pay alimony based upon their earning potential.

    If Mom gets $10k/month and he's only behind $15k, I cannot see him actually being jailed at this point...not over a single month.

    What he needs to do is get back to court to try and modify the order....assuming that it is modifiable and assuming that it was made at least a year ago.

    A criminal defense attorney is not the type of attorney he needs, btw - he needs a damn good family law attorney who is familiar with high-profile divorce cases.
    He has a fantastic family law attorney. The defense attorney they went to knew all of the lawyers and the judge involved in the case, and he told my dad that his lawyer was one of the best.

    The judgment was issued in April. The last month he paid in full was before the end of the trial. He's been slowly slipping behind every month, and the monthly income he has is slowly winding down. They are going to appeal the judgement because the judge really botched it on a couple different fronts according to my dads lawyer (and in fact my mom's lawyer I think also said they know he screwed up). They are asking for something called rule 59, but they are assuming he won't reevaluate his judgement.

    Past earning potential does not equal future earning potential. Specifically, my dad was able to get millions in capital to start his last business. Due to the events of the past few years, my dad will never be in a position again to access capital like that. He could go out there and get a regular job, yes, but it would be nearly impossible to find a job that immediately pays even near that... especially given that he needs that level of income immediately. My dad's business operated 15 years before the windfall that happened in 2003. It's not like they are giving him 1 year or even 5 years to begin earning again.

    Does the judge just expect him to somehow find capital like that again even though there is no reasonable way in which it could happen?

    Also, he is already nearing the age of retirement... is he expected to work for the rest of his life?

    I can see someone who has the money and just refusing to pay thrown in jail... but it seems so wrong to essentially order someone to go to work. That's what I don't understand... does the 13th amendment not say that involuntary work can only be given as punishment for a crime. Where does it say that if you marry someone and they divorce you, you must work the rest of your life to support them? (Rhetorical, but just getting my thoughts out there)

    Sorry for all of the questions, I am just trying to digest this all. Thank you for the help, it is greatly appreciated.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Somewhere near Canada
    Posts
    35,894

    Default Re: Alimony and Contempt of Court - Can They Really Force You to Work

    Actually, past earning potential is often a huge factor in calculating future support obligations regardless of the actual current financial situation. This doesn't always make much sense, but it is what it is.

    Honestly - he really needs to be talking to his attorney although I have to tell you, he will likely not be able to get a modification mere months after the original order was made.

    I'm also very concerned that the order wasn't immediately appealed; generally there is a very short window in which this can happen and specifically, a rule 59 motion must be made within 28 days of the order.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: Alimony and Contempt of Court - Can They Really Force You to Work

    He is always deferring to his attorney. The rule 59 was filed already I believe... the hearing is this week for the rule 59 and the contempt. Specifcally, the judge is deciding if the contempt hearing is under his jurisdiction or if it should go to public courts.

    It sounds like you think that the judge will be relatively lenient given these circumstances. From what I understand though, my mother can bring a contempt charge every month that he does not pay. So if the judge decides no jail this time, she could just keep bringing contempt hearings indefinitely.

    1. Sponsored Links
       

Similar Threads

  1. Criminal Contempt of Court: Failure to Comply With a Court Order, and Contempt of Court
    By totallyfrustrated in forum Criminal Charges
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 03-08-2011, 04:28 AM
  2. Spousal Support and Alimony: Divorcing, Husband is Stay at Home Dad, Refuses to Work, Wants Alimony
    By alright1955 in forum Divorce, Annulment and Separation
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 02-07-2011, 12:22 PM
  3. Disabilities and Accommodation: Can an Employer Force You to Come to Work when Sick?
    By kk344 in forum Employment and Labor
    Replies: 19
    Last Post: 10-23-2008, 05:40 AM
  4. Replies: 1
    Last Post: 10-08-2008, 05:13 PM
  5. Spousal Support and Alimony: Contempt Proceedings For Nonpayment Of Alimony
    By kncfes in forum Divorce, Annulment and Separation
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 03-28-2008, 06:30 AM
 
 
Sponsored Links

Legal Help, Information and Resources