New York Lawyers For Enforcement & Contempt Issues in Matrimonial & Family Law
Especially given the tough economic conditions that have characterized the last several years, it is not unusual for post-divorce obligations to go into default, especially those concerning regular payments of child support or spousal maintenance. Ideally, the person falling behind in these obligations will seek relief in court through the modification process. More often, unfortunately, the arrearages pile up until the party expecting payment needs to consider enforcement options. Unexcused default of court-ordered family obligations is regarded as contempt of court, which can be punished in any of several ways: jail, loss of professional or driver’s licenses, or even loss of hunting and fishing privileges. Not only will the person found in contempt be required to pay up the arrearages before the contempt is fully purged, but the party in default will usually also be required to pay the legal expenses of the person who had to go to court to enforce payment.
At Figeroux & Associates we take a practical approach to default, enforcement and contempt issues. When representing the person seeking enforcement, the first order of business is to determine whether the defaults represent genuine problems with performance based on reduced income or the loss of a job, or whether instead there is no good excuse. Our strategies will vary considerably between the two situations. Unless there’s a good reason why the payments are not being made at the right times and at the right amounts, we file a motion for enforcement, prove up the arrearages, obtain a court order, and give the other side a fair opportunity to pay up. If that doesn’t work, we go straight to contempt as an effective if harsh means of compelling performance. When the reasons for default reflect legitimate financial distress rather than irresponsibility, we can still use the potential sanction of contempt as a way of stimulating action on the problem, but we will more likely concentrate on a revised payment plan or modification that gives the other side a chance to catch up or meet a more realistic support or maintenance commitment. Keep in mind, however, that even people with good excuses for nonpayment can be held in contempt if they ignore their responsibilities or court orders.
Sound Advice for People in Contempt of Court-Ordered Support Commitments
As well as representing people who need to enforce their rights under divorce settlements, we work with people in default who are exposed to the full range of contempt sanctions for nonpayment. We can help you get out of jail if you let things slide too long before getting legal advice. Our lawyers can also help you set up a payment plan that you can actually meet, and take care of whatever license suspension problems you might have encountered at an earlier point of the enforcement and contempt process. For more information about enforcing support and maintenance rights under New York law, contact the attorneys of Figeroux & Associates in New York.