Methinks a fellow who has been to court thirty-three times since 1997 ought to know the answers to the questions you are asking us. How can it be that you have learned nothing in all these years?
If a warrant for your arrest has already been issued, you can only stay out of jail by paying what the Judge has ordered as your “purge amount.” (Bail Amount.) Your ex-wife can do nothing to help you, unless the Judge agrees to the terms proposed by her (or yourself). In most states, the friendly ex-wife would have to appear in court and convince a hearing officer that putting you in jail would be contrary to the “best interests of the children;” and that you are trying to be a good father, but simply have no money at this time to pay her. If she would do these things for you, I would then ask you for her name, so that I could try to find her – and marry her myself! No such woman exists, I believe.
As for a “statute of limitations” for child support arrears: Sorry Charlie, I do not believe there is any such statute–in any state. Perhaps I am wrong, though? I am of the understanding that you will pay her the arrears [plus interest], indefinitely–until it is paid in full! Until then, the gov’t will continue taking your income tax returns, and your credit will be ruined as well. The child gets NONE of this money, by the way, as it is the opinion of the courts that the custodial parent has paid the extra monies from his or her own pocket, and that by making up that difference the non custodial parents failed to pay, the custodial parent is owed the money – NOT THE CHILD!!! Go figure.
Now, as for the woman attorney who told you you would do at least six months in jail (and you would only have to pay her $2,000 for this!), I am wondering what she would do to earn her fee? Perhaps you would do better to find another attorney who will tell you something that you really DO want to hear? Shop around; make phone calls and more phone calls; and don’t give up until you find one you like! YOU CANNOT GO TO COURT WITHOUT ONE, unless you are prepared to spend some time in jail! A good lawyer is money well spent. If you go to court without an attorney, be prepared for the worst case scenario–and a lengthy stay in jail. I will guarantee you that, my friend.
Personally, I am paying my support and arrears ONLY until my son turns eighteen and moves away from my ex-wife. Then I will stop paying her and hope the courts will not pursue me, as they would if my son were still living with her. My credit has been ruined since 1987, when I was divorced, and in all that time I have never once had a bank checking or savings account. I hardly miss my tax returns, they are so meager anyways, and so I will become like one of those for whom “freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.”
If I were you, or if I had it to do all over again myself, I would not appear in court to let myself be put in jail. I would leave the state and find a job to begin making payments from that state. Perhaps the other state will not be so inhumane to you as your own state? How can they PROVE BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT that you left to avoid jail, instead of to look for a better job? I think it would be very difficult for a state to prove, given you have an attorney to represent you.
HIRE AN ATTORNEY FOOL!!!