The facts: I terminated my ex wife's health insurance, violating the ATRO. She filed an OSC and Affidavit for Contempt before our divorce became final. The divorce is now final and the OSC hearing date remains on docket. She wants me to pay her outstanding medical bills of 10s of 1000s of dollars. She's also coming after me for her attorney fees involved in this case. Is this still a civil case or, since there is no longer a way for me to add her back on my insurance, is it now a criminal case? If the later, what may I be facing? I know I will get a PD if the latter, but I want to get a feel for what I'm up against.
What you describe is a civil case, however, a contested divorce proceeding, as you may sense by now, is never a pleasant affair. I would suggest you meet with a family law attorney in Los Angeles, CA to address your possible actions with respect to your ex-spouse possible unreasonable assertions.
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If you cancelled her insurance coverage in violation of the ATRO, the court can order you to pay all of your ex's medical expenses which would have been covered, even if the court doesn't find you in contempt, and the PD is NOT required to help you with that issue. You need to consult an experienced private attorney NOW.
Contempt, even in a civol proceeding, is always quasi-criminal. There are whole books that explain what that means but the short version is that a family court judge has the power to send you to custody and order the payment by you of considerable fines and restitution. It therefore means that you have many rights typical of criminal defendants and that the contempt hearing will conform to those rights -- 5th Amendment right not to incriminate yourself, proof beyond reasonable doubt, etc., -- but no right to trial by jury.
It would be helpful to your case if you stopped publishing confessions on the internet.
If your ex is seriously ready to pursue the OSC re contempt you must have legal advice and skilled representation.
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One more point, in addition to the excellent advice you were already given. You should find an attorney and then you should have that attorney try to negotiate to get rid of the contempt citation. That will mean you paying all of her medical expenses incurred between the time you cancelled the insurance and when the divorce was final, and also paying something for attorneys fee because she was forced to file the contempt. You admit to doing it and if you don't have a good defense, negotiate a result that will keep you from getting additional fines and/or incarceration.
Michael is in San Jose, California and can be reached at 408-295-4232 or at [email protected] Consultation fees, rates and retainers vary based on need and ability to pay.
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