Asset Prottection Against Divorce Judgments

On occasion I receive calls from people requesting asset protection advice so they can escape legal responsibility to pay their former spouse money owed them as a result of their divorce. Asset protection planning mostly protects against judgments in civil litigation other than family matters. Whether asset protection planning protects against family law liability depends on the nature of the family law obligation; some family law judgements are treated the same as civil money awards and other family law obligations may be enforced with stronger measures including contempt and imprisonment. Asset protection planning, for the most part and with few exceptions, cannot protect you from being held in contempt of court. The general rule is that family law judgments awarding a property settlement and equitable distribution of marital property is enforceable as a general civil judgments and the recipient has available the same execution tools as any other civil creditor. Asset protection tools can thwart the collection of equitable distribution awards. Family law judgments awarding money for alimony and support of the ex-spouse or children are given higher priority under our law. A former spouse may be held in contempt of court for not paying alimony or support provided he or she has the assets to pay the judgment. Assets exempt from execution of civil judgments and equitable distribution collection are not exempt nor excluded when the court evaluates the defendant's ability to pay. Asset protection planning is not designed to help you avoid paying alimony and support judgements.

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