What are My Legal Remedies if My Former Spouse Stops Paying Alimony?
Spousal maintenance, or alimony, is a form of compensation that is paid by one former spouse to another after the couple’s marriage has been terminated. When someone fails to comply with a court order to pay alimony, there could be a number of remedies available to the wronged party. To learn more about the best way to go about collecting overdue spousal maintenance, please call our experienced Fort Lauderdale alimony attorneys today.
Determining Spousal Support
Spousal support is typically paid in cases where one spouse earns significantly less than the other, or in situations where one party supported the couple’s children while the other worked. Alimony can be temporary in nature, in which case the payments are meant to help the lesser earning spouse obtain job training or go back to school in an effort to improve his or her employment opportunities. Alimony can also, however, be more long-term, although this is usually only applicable in cases where marriages were particularly lengthy or the parties are retired or of a more advanced age.
Spousal support is often determined by family law courts during divorce, which take a number of different factors into their assessment, including the parties’ ages and health, as well as the standard of living that the couple enjoyed during the marriage, and both parties’ levels of education and work histories. Alimony agreements can also, however, be reached by the parties themselves, in which case, the agreement will be incorporated into the divorce decree, making it an enforceable court order.
Contempt of Court Proceedings
A former spouse who refuses to pay alimony in accordance with a court order can be held accountable by the other party through the initiation of contempt of court proceedings. These proceedings occur when the wronged spouse provides the court with evidence of the other party’s failure to comply with a court order. If a defendant is found in contempt of court, the judge could demand immediate payment or issue an income withholding order, under which an employer will be required to withhold a certain amount of spousal support from the payor’s paycheck. This amount will then be automatically sent to the recipient spouse.
Filing a Lawsuit
Another way to seek unpaid spousal support is to file a lawsuit against the non-compliant party. The benefit of taking this route is that successful petitioners can pursue additional collection efforts against the non-paying spouse, including obtaining an order of wage garnishment, or even placing a lien on the defendant’s property.
Going to court is not always necessary in these types of cases. In fact, many parties are able to resolve their differences in out-of-court settings, like mediation. This is particularly common in situations where the non-paying spouse has only failed to pay because of a recent job loss or a serious injury.
Call Today for Legal Help
To speak with experienced Fort Lauderdale alimony lawyer Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. about your options for recovering unpaid spousal support, please call our office at 954-945-7591. Initial consultations are offered free of charge.