Marriage

Unforgiving Alimony Rules Reduce People to Jail and Poverty

You can't pay what you don't have

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Ari Schochet has grown so accustomed to being sent to jail for missing alimony payments that he goes into a routine.

Before his family-court hearing, Schochet, 41, sticks on a nicotine patch to cope with jailhouse smoking bans, sends an "Ari Off the Grid" e-mail to friends and family, and scrawls key phone numbers in permanent ink on his forearm.

The former Citadel Investment Group Inc. portfolio manager, who once earned $1 million a year, has been jailed for missing court-ordered payments at least eight times in the past two years as he coped with the end of his 17-year marriage.

The reason he ran afoul of the law was simple. He was out of work for most of that time, a victim of a weak economy, and he ran through his savings trying to pay his wife alimony and child support that totaled almost $100,000 a year.

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