Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Can I Go To Jail For Not Paying My Child Support? - Yes

In the midst of preparation for a few upcoming April trials, I have an interesting child support matter around the corner this spring. It seems that the father continues to think that he operates above the law and does not have to pay his child support. Even though the Support Collection Unit administers his payments, he still refuses to disclose where his money is and make his payments. He lost his job more than 18 months ago and has been “unable” to find a new one, even though the Court does not believe his claim.

We can add to the court’s disbelief that the father has been seen around town flashing some pretty large wads of cash when paying for things. You see, just a couple years ago, he withdrew nearly $400,000 in cash from his bank accounts and he has never accounted for where it went. So, while he buys new cars, clothing for the kids and jewelry for his new girlfriend, he refuses to give a dime to his ex-wife for child support.

Fast forward to spring 2013 when the trial will begin over whether to throw him in jail for his refusal to pay his support. He, of course, claims he doesn’t have a job and can’t pay a dime (or, at least, he only wants to pay $25 per month). Unfortunately for him, that’s not the way the Courts of New York treat the case.

The first step the Court looks at is whether he has made his payments or not (he hasn’t). And therein lies his problem. Once the Court finds that he has failed to make his payments, the burden shifts to him to come forward and show that his failure to make his support payments wasn’t willful. If the Court finds it was willful, it has the power to send him to jail for up to six months. The matter is so serious that a person facing this type of case is even entitled to court-appointed counsel to ensure that his rights are protected throughout the process.

This particular man does not believe the system will ever hold him accountable, but as I prepare the case against him, I hope that others in his situation will not make such a dangerous mistake.

For more information about the child support enforcement process or to schedule a consultation, please call my office (718.568.0221) or visit my website ( for more information.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Investing with "Friends"

The offer seems enticing. Your friend comes to you with a great idea: help me invest in some property I am buying  and I will do all the work, cleaning it up, flipping it, and you will make a profit when I sell it. All I need is $$,$$$ and, by the way, sign this short contract that I wrote up for us to sign. With banks offering such a low rate of return on savings accounts and other investment vehicles, it sounds like a great offer. Until three years later when you end up across the conference room table from me trying to figure out how to either (a) get your anticipated profit or (b) get your money back.

Early 2013 has seen an uptick in consultations for these friendly real estate deals gone bad. It seems that this time of year, tax refund season, is a particularly good time for your friends to come visit you and see if they can help you “invest” that extra cash that the government just gave you. Before doing so, make sure you read the contract and figure out what are your ways “out” if things go sour or you want to pull out.

One common problem I have seen is that there is no provision for you to receive your money until a property is sold. Especially in this real estate market, this could provide quite a headache for your meager investment with a friend. What if your friend actually lists the property for a “loss” – do you still get your money?

Another common problem is when the contract asks you to make monthly payments to support the property, all with the promise that you’ll make a profit at the end. Well, what happens when the value of the property falls and you are essentially throwing good money into a bad investment? Do you have an exit strategy for that.

The moral of the story is, don’t sign the contract without reviewing it, preferably with an attorney, and be sure to look at the options for exiting the investment. It takes a lot of work to get that refund from the government and it would be a shame if it takes even more to get a portion of that back from a friend.

For more information about real estate investment contracts or to schedule a consultation, please call my office (718.568.0221) or visit my website ( for more information.