I was recently found in contempt for willful failure to pay spousal support. During the hearing, the Judge ordered me to lease my home rent free to my ex. getting credited towards back support. If I refuse to follow a court order, and serve my 6mos, is there double jeopardy in that same contempt? One for willful failure to pay and the other for refusing to follow a court order resulting from one contempt motion. Is this the same contempt?
Also, if I fail to move out of my home, can I be forced to move out and liquidate that asset? The home was awarded to me in the final divorce decree.
Family Law Attorney
Your refusal to follow the first order and again is not double jeopardy. She can attach the house with a judgment and may be able to force it's sale. For your own good consult a local attorney quick.
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Divorce / Separation Lawyer
Attorney Cohen offers you excellent advice. The situation is not one where "double jeopardy" is applicable. It sounds like the Judge was actually giving you the opportunity to get spousal support under control. You need to contact a local family law attorney to discuss your options. Best of luck.
Legal disclaimer: The response given is not intended to create, nor does it create an ongoing duty to respond to questions. The response does not form an attorney-client relationship, nor is it intended to be anything other than the educated opinion of the author. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. The response given is based upon the limited facts provided by the person asking the question. To the extent additional or different facts exist, the response might possibly change. Attorney is licensed to practice law only in the State of Massachusetts. Responses are based solely on Massachusetts law unless stated otherwise.
7 lawyers agree
Family Law Attorney
Yes, you can. This is not "double jeopardy" in any way. Double jeopardy refers to a situation where you're accused of a crime, put on trial, acquitted, and then put on trial for the same incident again. This is not that. For one thing, contempt of court is not strictly a "crime," but rather, an inherent use of the court's power to enforce its orders. Second, you weren't acquitted of wrongdoing - just the opposite. Finally, there are two separate acts of defiance here you're discussing: the original failure to pay, and a subsequent refusal to follow the orders remedying that. It's like asking if you can be charged with two crimes if you break the law, get sent to prison, and then escape from prison. The escape is a separate crime.
If your ex-spouse has a judgment against you, then it could potentially be used to force the sale of your house, provided that the judgment is for more than $3,000 and the house is worth more than the $30,000 "homestead exemption". In practice, if you have more than $30,000 equity in the house, you might do better to refinance the house or take out a home equity line of credit so you can pay the support obligation, and keep the house.
Follow the court's orders to the best of your ability. That is the only advice an attorney can give in this situation.
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