lthough a divorce agreement is analogous to a contract in some ways, the consequences can be much more severe. Whereas a breach of contract might result in a civil lawsuit, a failure to comply with court-ordered alimony or child support payments might result in jail time.
One New Jersey man has experienced this result firsthand, and on more than one occasion. In fact, he's been jailed at least eight times for delinquent alimony payments in the past two years. According to the man, however, his financial problems made it impossible to keep current on the payments.
A former portfolio manager, the man previously made a sizable income. In fact, he claims it was seven figures at one point in his career. That substantial former income may explain the size of his annual alimony and child support obligation, which he claims is nearly $100,000.
In the past two years, unfortunately, the man has found himself frequently out of work. He claims the lifetime support obligation ordered by the divorce decree is both unfair and antiquated. In that regard, lawmakers in a number of states have recently considered revisions to existing alimony and support laws. In New York, for example, one proposal would impose alimony obligations only on the higher-earning spouse.
In this case, a divorce attorney might agree that the man might explore a modification request to the divorce court that entered his decree. Although parents generally have a legal obligation to provide support for their minor children, many family law courts might be willing to modify support agreements to account for unexpected financial hardship or changed income streams.
Source: bloomberg.com, “Jail Becomes Home for Husband Stuck With Lifetime Alimony,” Sophia Pearson, Aug. 26, 2013