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Phillips Esq.
Phillips Esq., Attorney-at-Law
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 19131
Experience:  B.A.; M.B.A.; J.D.
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New York law. I owned an advertising agency years, the first

Customer Question

New York law. I owned an advertising agency for 28 years, the first 10 with a partner and the remaining years as sole owner with my wife as senior partner after we bought out my original partner. With the recession and changes in my market, the company was failing but at the time of my ex field in 2008, there was still some value. By the time of the trial in 2011 the company was worthless. She left the company taking a major client with her and company went bankrupt. Yet court ruled I had to pay her half of valuation of business as of 2008 which was $125,000 saying I willfully dissipated which I did not. After the trial I discovered $500K in hidden debt (my ex handled all the financials). I have not worked for three years and have been living off my retirement. I am just getting some minor freelance work but I have no money to pay the property settlement and she is bring me up on contempt. What are my options? Can I file a change in circumstance on a property settlement? Will they accept a payment plan? If I have no assets or income can they put me in jail?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Phillips Esq. replied 1 year ago.

I am sorry, but I am having trouble understanding your post.

Kindly review, properly identify all the parties and resubmit.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok. My divorce started in 2008 and though finalized in May 2013, there were appeals which finally ended. The gist of it is I owned my own advertising agency for 28 years and for 2/3 of the time my then wife was senior partner in charge of some business development and the financial side. In the divorce trial in 2011, a value of the company for 2008 was used over my objections as the basis of property settlement. Even though all parties agreed in 2011 that company was worth zero, the court ruled I had to pay my ex- wife 1/2 the 2008 value which was $125,000. The company which was my sole source of income went bankrupt at the end of 2012 after she left the company and I have been living on retirement income during the appeal. I lost. I have no income to pay my ex what I owe in the property settlement and no assets worth enough to sell. She filed contempt for non payment. So my questions are: will the judge put me in jail even though I just spent my last retirement money paying overdue tax bills and have no $$$ left. Will the judge accept a payment plan? Can I file a motion to change amounts I owe her due to change in circumstance of unemployment and company gone bankrupt? Thank you.
Expert:  Phillips Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for the information.

Whether the Judge would find you in contempt and then put you in jail until you comply would depend on the documentation that you provided to the Court regarding your finances and your inability to pay. The same applies to whether the Court would allow you to make a payment plan under the circumstances.

Property settlement is usually not modifiable. However, because of extraordinary circumstances in your case here: the Court using the property value in 2008; the company's actual worth at the time of the settlement being zero; your subsequent petition for bankruptcy relief; you can ask for modification of the agreement. If the Court denies it, then you need to appeal from the adverse decision.