Enforcing an Alimony Award Through Wage Garnishment
A former spouse’s failure to pay alimony as ordered by the court is not only frustrating, but can also place the recipient in a difficult financial situation. Fortunately, Florida courts have a number of options when it comes to enforcing spousal maintenance judgments, including garnishment. To learn more about enforcing your own divorce decree, please contact a skilled alimony attorney who can advise you.
What is Wage Garnishment?
Garnishment is one of the many methods that Florida courts can use to enforce alimony awards and involves directing funds that would normally go to the person who was ordered to pay alimony to a third party recipient, or the party entitled to receive alimony. Courts achieve this by issuing income withholding orders to the person or entity responsible for sending funds to the obligor, or the person ordered to pay alimony. In most cases, courts first attempt to garnish a person’s wages by sending a notice to that individual’s employer directing them to withhold a certain amount from the employee’s wages. These income withholding orders must contain certain information in order to be considered valid, including:
- The court that entered the order, the date that the order was issued, and the case number in question;
- The amount that the employer or other entity is required to withhold from the payor’s paycheck;
- How long the order will remain in effect;
- Where the deducted funds should be sent; and
- The consequences of failing to comply with the order.
Income withholding orders must also be accompanied by a copy of the spousal support order and the signature of the judge who issued the order.
Wages are not the only types of payments that can be garnished for this purpose. In fact, a number of courts have held that pensions can also be garnished to cover periodic alimony payments. Similarly, spendthrift trusts, which are trusts that are specifically created to protect a trustee’s assets from creditors or waste, can also be garnished to satisfy spousal maintenance payments. Courts may also have the option of garnishing retirement, or Social Security benefits in which case, the income withholding order would be sent to the Social Security Administration, or other government agency in charge of providing benefits.
When issuing these orders, courts can order the payor’s salary to be garnished on a periodic or continuing basis for as long as it deems necessary, or until otherwise ordered by the court in a later proceeding.
Schedule a Free Consultation with an Experienced Alimony Lawyer Today
If you were granted alimony upon your divorce, but your ex-spouse is refusing to pay, you may have legal recourse for collecting those payments. To learn more about your legal options, please contact dedicated Fort Lauderdale alimony attorney Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. You can reach us by calling 954-945-7591, or by completing one of our brief online contact forms. Initial consultations are offered free of charge, so please don’t hesitate to call or contact us online with your alimony, or divorce-related questions and concerns.