I’m currently going through a pendente lite divorce and have been ordered to pay alimony pendent lite. Unfortunately, I do not make enough to afford this.
My attorney advises me to comply with my wife’s attorney and says I could face jail time if I don’t.
Is there anything I can do at this point? Should I change attorneys?
While I am not licensed to practice law in your state, I can give some general guidance on this issue.
The answer to your question can vary from state to state, but regardless of what state you are in, an order signed by a judge should be taken very seriously. The rest of my response is based on my training and experience in Georgia courtrooms.
As always, I advise you to consult an attorney in your state about state specific laws and procedures that may impact your case.
Your attorney’s advice that you should pay is sound, and in light of an order from the judge I would probably recommend my client to do the same.
Even if you have to borrow money from relatives, you need to comply with the judge’s order. What will happen if you do not pay depends on the specific details in that court order.
There may be language that automatically requires you to be arrested. Without such language, your wife’s attorney will have to file a motion for contempt and officially ask for sanctions.
A hearing will be held to determine if you did indeed violate the order and what sanctions to impose. You could be required to pay additional legal fees and court costs and may be imprisoned for contempt.
It is very difficult to combat such an order, especially in a short timeframe, but it is not impossible. By filing a motion, you can request that the judge reconsider the terms of the previous order. There are very limited situations where a judge will indeed revisit such an order. These situations include when there was a mistake of fact or law by the judge, or evidence that fraud was perpetrated on the court.
As difficult as things seem right now, I urge you to not give into despair and depression. The divorce process can be long and filled with many difficult battles. Try hard to remain focused on the long term goals.
As for changing attorneys, that is certainly within your rights. If you are unsure what to do or how to do it, I suggest you schedule a consultation with a different attorney. At the very least, it may give you an additional professional perspective on the case. However, if you wish to address the judge’s recent order with a new attorney, I suggest you do so quickly.