Sunday, November 7, 2010

Former Major Leaguer Arrested for not Paying Child Support

Former Major League outfielder Elijah Dukes has fallen on hard financial times. On Wednesday, he appeared in court, clad in an orange jumpsuit. He offered the Judge Liz Rice tears and apologies in a, but he could not offer the approximately $143 thousand he owes in child support.

At a past hearing in May, Dukes informed the court that he had spent all but $1,500 of his retirement account. The judge ordered him to pay what he had in child support, but Dukes did not pay and failed to appear at several later hearings. On Monday, Dukes was arrested on contempt of court charges.

Judge Rice said to him, "Mr. Dukes, we're not holding you in jail because we like to see you in an orange jumpsuit. All we want you to do is honor your commitment to this court and your family." She ordered Dukes to be released, set a new hearing for November 22, and ordered Dukes to bring financial records. Judge Rice added, "You can't just throw a bunch of documents at your lawyer and say, 'You do the Accounting.' You do it."

The case of Elijah Duke's illustrates what can happen when a parent ignores child support obligations. When a father's financial situation changes, and he can no longer afford his child support obligations, he cannot simply ignore it and hope it goes away. That strategy often leads to an arrest for nonpayment. Family law judges are willing to work with a father who is going through financial difficulties, but when a father does not pay, and does not inform the court, judges are also willing to issue an arrest warrant.

When a father's financial situation takes a turn for the worse and he can no longer afford to make child support payments, an experienced family law attorney can help. Family law attorneys understand that when an involuntary loss of income happens to a father, as has happened to Elijah Dukes, a lowering the child support payment is made possible by bringing a motion to modify to the court.

Source: St. Petersburg Times: Former Tampa Bay Ray Dukes offers tears, excuses, but no child support; Dan Sullivan, 11/4/2010

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