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Former TV star incarcerated for failing to pay spousal support

On Behalf of | Jun 21, 2018 | Divorce |

California is a state where there are many people in the entertainment industry who either have earned or continue to earn significant sums of money. However, accruing wealth does not mean that the income will continue indefinitely and the wealth will be sufficient to maintain a previous lifestyle. When there is a high-asset divorce or separation, spousal support is often one of the most contentious divorce legal issues that must be dealt with. If a person who has been ordered to pay a certain amount in spousal support fails to do so, it can result in sanctions and even jail time.

The actor John Schneider was jailed after failing to pay the alimony he was ordered to for support of his estranged wife. According to Mr. Schneider, he cannot make the payments due to financial issues and accumulated debt. He stated that he had worked hard his entire life and the system in which he was ordered to make such vast payments was the problem. The couple had been married for two decades before their 2014 divorce filing. Mr. Schneider was a star of the show “The Dukes of Hazzard” as well as other projects. He was jailed for three days after failing to make an ordered payment of $150,000 by a March deadline.

Spousal support can cause major problems and can be the foundation for endless dispute from the perspective of the paying spouse and the receiving spouse. The paying spouse might have concerns about an order of an amount that is too large and lasts too long. The receiving spouse can point to contributions during the marriage and the need to maintain a lifestyle. Also concerning is the means for both parties. The supporting spouse could experience a decline in income. The receiving spouse might not have sufficient education, training and ability to earn enough to support him or herself. The length of the marriage is a factor too. For people who are facing allegations of failing to make the payments as ordered, jail could be a possibility.

As Mr. Schneider’s case illustrates, those who have created a prominent career and notable wealth because of it and end a marriage could be faced with the prospect of incarceration if they are unable to make their ordered spousal support payments. Trying to cobble together a reasonable amount in spousal support for both sides is preferable to incarceration and other punishments.


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John T. Chamberlin, Attorney at Law
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