Theme From ‘the Dukes of Hazzard’ (Good Ol’ Boys) lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, Universal Music Publishing Group, DO Write Music LLC
The Duke Boys- Dukes of Hazzard
Whoever could have predicted that the lyrics to Waylon Jennings theme song for the Dukes of Hazzard would ring true almost forty years later.
This past week, Tom Wopat pleaded guilty in the Waltham District Court on two counts of “annoying and accosting a person of the opposite sex in connection with charges stemming from inappropriate behavior.”
Wopat was sentenced to one year probation along with stay away orders and no contact with the two female victims. Wopat also has to undergo counseling.
While getting arrested after his rehearsal, police also found a plastic baggie with cocaine in Wopat’s pocket.
In June, John Schneider was sentenced to three days in jail in the Los Angeles County Jail for not paying more than $150,000 in past due alimony payments to his former wife, Elvira Schneider.
In addition, he was required to perform 240 hours of community service.
Legal Issues with Past Due Child Support and/or Alimony
John’s defense was that he simply didn’t have the money. The same argument made to me by clients hundreds of times in my office, and exactly the same argument I have never made in court because that argument never works.
The fact is whether Schneider or one of my clients, when a court order is entered, you have to comply with that court order, or face the consequences which is a contempt charge and possible jail.
The problem stems from the simple fact that the prior court order has never been modified. Without it, regardless of your excuse, you are still obligated to pay that amount whether you can afford it or not.
At times, I have had clients say they spoke to their ex and they were okay with it. Doesn’t matter! The fact is child support or alimony is due! Nothing more, nothing less! You DO NOT have the power to modify a court order on your own, if you could, what’s the point of having courts and judges.
Suppose a client makes more money in the future, what are the odds he returns to court to modify the agreement to pay more? Never! But the same applies when a parent or ex-spouse cannot afford payments. Simply put, you have to return to court to modify the prior ruling of the court. Every single case where a father has been held in contempt could have been resolved easily. Only once did I have a client go to jail.
My client owed more than $100,000 in child support. Again, he wasn’t earning the same income as when the original court order was issued. I asked for the judge to give me thirty days in order for my client to start making payments. I read my client the riot act and advised he better start making payments and in the meantime, I would seek to modify the court order. Thirty days later, not one payment was made nor did he retain me for the modification of child support.
Now, mine you, it doesn’t mean past clients came up with the pending balance, only that a good faith effort was made to start paying. A court will take that into consideration, and because I had a good working relationship with the judges and state attorneys, it was never an issue.
So, if your financial status has changed, it’s simple: go back to court, otherwise, you will be spending some time in jail.
Alexander Hernandez, Esq.