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Dimitry K., Esq.
Dimitry K., Esq., Attorney
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 41221
Experience:  I provide family and divorce law advice to my clients in my firm.
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I live in Pennsylvania, but owe alimony from a Michigan divorce

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I live in Pennsylvania, but owe alimony from a Michigan divorce years ago. I've received an order to appear in court in Michigan. I have no idea how to proceed, in which state to look for an attorney, or even if I have any rights or protections. Any suggestions would be much appreciated.
Thank you for your question. Please permit me to assist you with your concerns. I happen to be a Pennsylvania licensed professional.

If I may ask, in what state was the order put in place under? Is the order from Michigan or a different state, or is Michigan simply the state that is enforcing the current order?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

The original order, and the enforcement, are from Michigan.

Thank you for your follow-up, Kirk.

Based on your question I do see quite a bit of potential follow-up concerns, so I welcome you to reply if you have additional questions stemming from the answers that I will provide you.

If this order is from Michigan, and I am assuming that the child resides in Michigan as well, PA does not have any sort of hold over this case. That means that you would need to retain a Michigan attorney since only a MI licensed attorney can respond and represent your interests in Michigan courts. Consider browsing the listings at www.avvo.com and www.martindale.com for competent counsel--consider looking for an attorney in the same county where the court is located so that the attorney would have a better chance to provide you with proper care.

In terms of 'rights and protections', what governs is the order itself--that means that depending on what you are being requested to appear in court over, you would need to evaluate the demand and see what specifically you are contesting. If you do owe alimony, then failure to pay it is a violation of your initial court order and can be considered contempt of court if she ends up prevailing against you. Not paying it is not a defense if you had a duty to cover it. If you could provide me with more information I could try to give a more detailed response.

Hope that helps.

Dimitry K., Esq. and 2 other Family Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I should have been more clear. The order is for spousal support. There are no children. I initially attempted payments, or partial payments, but couldn't make them in full, or for very long. What I have now is an order to appear for a show-cause hearing, and a threat of contempt charges. If I retain an attorney in Michigan, am I asking for more trouble, presenting myself to the Michigan jurisdiction?

Kirk,

Thank you for your follow-up. To ensure that I do not miss anything, please allow me to answer line by line.

You posted:
I should have been more clear. The order is for spousal support.
In this situation it does not matter if the order was for child support back-support, alimony, or some other request. What governs is whether or not some order was put in place and whether or not it is being honored. If not, then it would give grounds to the other party to claim contempt and to pursue you for recourse.

There are no children. I initially attempted payments, or partial payments, but couldn't make them in full, or for very long. What I have now is an order to appear for a show-cause hearing, and a threat of contempt charges.
I am sorry to hear that. If you were unable to make the orders, the obligation for those orders does not go away. inability to pay could have given you the option to consider filing a petition with the court that put the order in place claiming 'hardship' and a request to review or modify your obligation. but even so, making payments remains as the default position until and if the order is formally modified.

If I retain an attorney in Michigan, am I asking for more trouble, presenting myself to the Michigan jurisdiction?
You are already under Michigan jurisdiction since the order is from Michigan. They have 'subject-matter' jurisdiction both over you and the order, plus they have personal jurisdiction over your ex and possibly you if you were in Michigan courts in the past when the divorce was being resolved. I do not see contesting jurisdiction here (or hiding from the courts) as a really valid strategy, at least not for long.

Hope that helps.