Saturday, November 24, 2007

Collecting Money Owed in a Divorce

While working on my Indiana Civil and Business Law Blog, I ran across Florida Asset Protection Blog and this article: : Enforcement Of Divorce Judgments Against Mobile Debtor Spouse.

Generally speaking, I would say that the following captures Indiana law, too. I would not say that incarceration is not as much a certainty in Indiana.

"In this instance, the practicality of enforcing a marital decree against a debtor-on-the-move may offer practical protection. The creditor spouse would have to domesticate the marital judgment in whatever state the debtor spouse is currently working and residing. Locating a moving debtor and serving him with process can be very difficult. If the debtor spouse returned to Florida where the original marital judgment was entered the court could hold him in contempt and incarcerate him for failure to comply with prior court orders."
Marital debts seldom justify the cost of domesticating a judgment - that is taking (for example) a Florida judgment and filing the judgment in an Indiana court. That cost rather than any inherent difficulty in the domestication process bothers me most.

However, one important exception comes to mind - if the other party's employer is in Indiana. Why is this an important exception? One word: garnishment. Garnishment requires that a third party owe money to a person owing money to my client. Having assets here would also be a good exception but then the remedy is not garnishment but attachment.

Contempt probably comes to mind first with family law matters. After all, we use that tool for so many things but I find that for collecting money that contempt has its limits.

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