Saturday, March 24, 2007

Getting those court ordered fees paid

Using contempt to collect attorney fees ordered in family law case is unconstitutional in Indiana except for provisional fees in a divorce. Such has been the rule since Bahre v. Bahre in 1967.

Article I, §22 of Indiana's Bill of Rights bans imprisonment for debt. Unlike child support or maintenance payments, Indiana law defines attorney fees as a money judgment. Tools abound for collecting a money judgment: attachment, garnishment, and execution. Wage garnishment has the greatest ease of starting and of getting one's money.

Wage garnishment does require that the debtor have a job. Once the court enters judgment for attorney fees, file a Motion for Proceedings Supplemental to Execution (what is commonly called a Motion Pro Sup). This document starts the garnishment proceedings. The Motion Pro Sup contains an Order to the debtor to appear at a hearing and to the employer to answer Interrogatories (written questions) about the debtor's wages. So long as the debtor makes more than 30 times the minimum wage, there will be a garnishment of the wages.

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