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Man jailed for failing to pay $78,000 a year in alimony

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Divorce can bring about a whole host of family legal issues here in Arizona. Child custody, child support, property division, and spousal support can all be hotly contested issues that lead to aggressive arguments being presented to a judge. Yet, while the judge may make a final determination on these family law problems, life for the divorcing parties continues. As time progresses, so does the direction of the divorcing parties' careers and life paths. A sudden change in circumstances can make satisfying divorce conditions difficult, and a failure to fulfill these conditions can carry serious consequences.

A major debate in the legal community surrounds reformation of alimony. Some are pointing to one man's case to illustrate why reformation is needed. In that instance, the once successful Wall Street portfolio manager was hit hard financially and could no longer pay the nearly $78,000 a year he owes in alimony. Coupled with child support, the man owes almost $100,000 a year. But his inability to pay these costs landed him in jail for nights and weekends until he can come up with a $25,000 down payment on the $233,000 he owes in back payments. Many are calling this unfair, saying post-divorce modification is too difficult and time consuming for many who are similarly situated.

While getting a post-divorce modification for alimony or child support may be difficult, an experienced attorney can simplify the process. If an owing individual suddenly loses his job, is diagnosed with a medical condition, or is affected financially in another way, the attorney can seek to have the required alimony or child support payments lessened. This will allow the individual to stay out of jail and find balance in his financial life that allows him to uphold his obligations.

Whether or not the alimony system should be reformed is up for debate. But if or until that time comes, individuals owing spousal support should seek an amount that fits fairly within their true income. Though the process may take some time, it is better than having to go to jail for a seemingly indefinite period of time.

Source: ABA Journal, "Is jailed former portfolio manager a poster child for alimony reform?," Martha Neil, Sep. 10, 2013

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