Nobody gets a free pass on their child support and spousal support obligations, not even if you're former Saint's wide-receiver Robert Meachem.
Meachem spent three days out of a possible thirty in jail before he decided he'd had enough of prison life and paid $100,000 of the nearly $400,000 he owes his ex-wife in child support and alimony. The $100,000 represented the payment ordered by the District Court judge overhearing his case if the former football star wanted to get out of jail before his 30 days were up.
Now, he only has to catch up the remaining three-quarters of what he owes to stay out of jail.
Louisiana law, like many other states, allows for the imprisonment of parents who fail to pay their child or spousal support. Meachem's been flirting with the edge of that law since last November when he paid only about $200,000 of the $588,000 he owed his ex-wife for combined support payments. Court officials recommended that he be held in contempt.
Contempt of court is a charge used to enforce the authority and dignity of a court and it is often used to punish people who are unwilling to pay the child support or spousal support they've been ordered to pay.
If someone is genuinely unable to pay, he or she can appeal to the court for a reduction in the order or work out an agreement to pay back arrears. That helps keep those who have fallen on hard times from landing in prison.
Meachum had previously claimed to the court that he was the victim of financial losses due to his "inattentiveness" and cited several issues he'd had. However, his ex-wife's attorney pointed out that all of those issues had occurred well before he had admitted he could afford $200,000 a month in support. Meachum, for his part, claimed to be so far down on his luck that he was going to become a shoe salesman to support himself.
Given that Meachem managed to come up with the required monetary key to his cell within three days, his failure to pay support seems to be willful and not a product of actual financial distress.
If you're having trouble collecting the spousal and child support you are due and suspect that your ex-spouse is simply dragging his or her feet, consider contacting a family law attorney for help.
Source: The New Orleans Advocate, "Ex-Saints receiver Robert Meachem makes $100,000 child support, alimony payment to secure release from jail," Ramon Antonio Vargas, Feb. 16, 2017