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NYcowgirlawyer
NYcowgirlawyer, Family Law Attorney
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 123
Experience:  24 yrs.exp.; Fellow, American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers; Certified Civil Law Mediator.
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My exwife and I were married for 7 years. My lwyr charged

Customer Question

My exwife and I were married for 7 years. My lwyr charged me $1000 for the divorce. It was finalized 2 weeks ago. We had an agreement for me to pay her $700/mnth thru the end of the divorce. My lwyr is telling me it will cost an extra $1000 to go to trial for the comm. prop. hearing, unless I settle. My ex is asking for full spousal support. She is currently working full time. We do have mutual debt. I only make $2400/mnth. Its breaking me!

Here is what the "Stipulated Judgement" says:

It is further ordered adjudged and decreed that Mark Bornstein shall pay $700 per mnth. in interim spousal support to "the-ex" until terminated according to Louisiana Law.   Q1) What does it mean by stating : until terminated according to LA law? Q2)What are the repercussions if I stop paying her. Q3)Is it best to go to trial or settle? Q4)If I quit my job and have no income, would this help my situation w/paying her? Q5)What additional measures can I take to financially protect myself?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  NYcowgirlawyer replied 5 years ago.

HelloCustomer

 

Thank you for contacting Just Answer for assistance. Sorry for the delay; I had a lengthy answer that disappeared into cyberspace. So, here we go again...

 

1. Interim spousal support in LA terminates upon the grant of the final Judgment of Divorce unless there is a pending claim of permanent support. In that case, interim support continues until the first occurrence of 1) the denial or granting by the court of the permanent support claim or 2) the expiration of 180 days from the granting of the divorce judgment unless the court continues it for good cause shown. Here's the relevant section of the Louisiana Civil Code:

 

Art. 113. Interim spousal support allowance pending final spousal support award

Upon motion of a party or when a demand for final spousal support is pending, the court may award a party an interim spousal support allowance based on the needs of that party, the ability of the other party to pay, and the standard of living of the parties during the marriage, which award of interim spousal support allowance shall terminate upon the rendition of a judgment of divorce. If a claim for final spousal support is pending at the time of the rendition of the judgment of divorce, the interim spousal support award shall thereafter terminate upon rendition of a judgment awarding or denying final spousal support or one hundred eighty days from the rendition of judgment of divorce, whichever occurs first. The obligation to pay interim spousal support may extend beyond one hundred eighty days from the rendition of judgment of divorce, but only for good cause shown.

Acts 1997, No. 1078, §1, eff. Jan. 1, 1998; Acts 2001, No. 738, §1; Acts 2003, No. 1092, §1.

 

2. If you stop paying without the order of the court, you will be subject to contempt sanctions including a judgment for arrears.

 

3. DO NOT quit your job to avoid support! No good will come from either voluntary unemployment or under-employement.

 

4. It's always better to settle your case vs. going to trial. People who settle have more control over their destiny. But if one or both parties are stubborn, irrational or insistent upon a legal claim that is invalid, you're probably better off going to trial. Settlement vs. trial is a strategy decision to be made with your lawyer, taking into account all factors, including a cost-benefit analysis to you.

5. To protect yourself financially (I assume you mean with respect to the alimony claim), maintain the status quo. Don't take on significant fixed expenses in an effort to claim your available income is suddently less.

 

Here's a link that I think will help you on the alimony issue:

http://www.divorceinfo.com/lafaqsalimony.htm

 

I believe I have answered your questions. If so, please click ACCEPT so that I will receive credit and payment for my time and effort on your behalf. Following an ACCEPT, I will gladly take follow up questions.

 

Good luck to you, sir.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

So, what does the grant of the "final judgement of divorce mean"? Does that include the community hearing, b/c the "divorce" has already been finalized. I AM officially divorced.

 

I am confused. Please explain.

 

Again, my stipulated judgement states exactly "It is further ordered adjudged and decreed that Myself pay $700 per month in the interim spousal support to her until terminated according to LA law.

 

Isn't this left wide open? The term terminated according to LA law. Until what is terminated?

 

Is a marraige officially terminated once the divorce is finalized or the community property hearing?

 

She has NOT filed for hearing, nor does she have a pending claim for spousal support to my knowledge. I just know that is what she is going to ask for but she does not have a pending claim.

 

She is friends with her lawyer and my suspicion is that it was worded the way it was in the stipulated judgement so that I would continue to pay after the divorce was finalized due to lack of knowledge and my wrong assumptions as to when the payment are supposed to cease.

 

Also, I have means of being financially supported if I would quit my job. I also have many job opportunities where I could get hired in a heartbeat when necessary. Don't you think with these circumstances and by what i've just told you, that quitting my job would get me out of paying or at least decrease the amount of spousal support?

 

I CANNOT continue to afford to pay her money each month. Please, any help is appreciated.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

I just looked at my Judgement of Divorce and it states "It is further ordered, adjudged, and decreed that all prior judgements continue in full force and effect as though set forth at length herein.

 

This judgement of divorce was made on Aug. 18th, 08.

 

What exactly does this mean?

 

What is the worst that could happen to me if I am sanctioned to contempt and judgement for arrears? I basically have nothing to my name. I gave her everything except an old truck. I have nothing, and cannot build anything until these payments stop.

 

Let me know. Thanks.

Expert:  NYcowgirlawyer replied 5 years ago.

The confusion I see is from the use of the term "interim support". Generally, that term indicates the support is temporary until a final resolution of support . You are telling me the divorce is final except for the community property aspects. That means the marriage is legally dissolved, but the property/debts haven't been resolved.

 

If the $700 support in the divorce judgement was meant to be "final periodic support" under LA law, then the termination events are remarriage, death or cohabitation. Please look at the following:

 

ALIMONY/MAINTENANCE/SPOUSAL SUPPORT: When a spouse has not been at fault and is in need of support, based on the needs of that party and the ability of the other party to pay, that spouse may be awarded final periodic support. The court shall consider all relevant factors in determining the amount and duration of final support. Those factors may include:

The income and means of the parties, including the liquidity of such means.
The financial obligations of the parties.
The earning capacity of the parties.
The effect of custody of children upon a party's earning capacity.
The time necessary for the claimant to acquire appropriate education, training, or employment.
The health and age of the parties.
The duration of the marriage.
The tax consequences to either or both parties.
The sum awarded under this Article shall not exceed one-third of the obligor's net income.


The obligation of spousal support terminates upon the remarriage of the spouse receiving support, the death of either party, or a judicial determination that the supported spouse has cohabited with another person of either sex in the manner of married persons. [Based on Louisiana Civil Code - Articles 112 and 115]


You need to talk to your lawyer immediately. Whatever was in the stipulated judgment was agreed to by you and I sure hope you didn't agree to $700 as final periodic support without understanding it.

 

If you're on the hook for this support and you quit your job, the support order can continue to accrue on the basis that you have the ability to earn $2400 per month. The court can find you in contempt, imprison you, make you pay her lawyer's fees, etc. A judgment for support arrears will haunt you for a long time and prevent you from starting over.

 

The way to begin to resolve this is to call the lawyer you paid $1000 to and demand answers.

 

Based on what you've told me, this doesn't pass the smell test.

 

Let me know if you have further questions on this matter.

NYcowgirlawyer, Family Law Attorney
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 123
Experience: 24 yrs.exp.; Fellow, American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers; Certified Civil Law Mediator.
NYcowgirlawyer and 8 other Family Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
thanks for your help.

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