What Should I Do If My Husband Won't Pay Alimony?

In some divorce cases, alimony is ordered in order to help the spouse who earned less during the marriage or who may otherwise leave the marriage at a disadvantage to receive funds from the higher-earning spouse. This can help balance the financial stability of both spouses and keep the lower-earning spouse from being destitute and reliant on public assistance.

When it is ordered, a spouse must obey the order or face potential consequences. Even if a spouse has a meaningful act occur that affects his or her ability to pay alimony, the obligation remains effective until the timeline to pay alimony expires or the court modifies the order. Some of the ways that an ex-wife can try to receive the alimony payments that she is owed are detailed below. Ask a family law attorney for help in enforcing the alimony order.

Contempt of Court

In a contempt of court action, a party asks the court to find the other party in contempt for not following the rules of court. The other party has the opportunity to defend himself or herself and show the reasons why the court should not hold him or her in contempt. The party moving for contempt has the burden of proof of showing that the other party is not obeying the court order.

At the contempt hearing, the ex-wife may show documentation of when payments were received and when they were not, such as by showing the deposit history or asking for an official accounting of this matter. She may also provide communications from the ex-husband stating that he was behind on payments or in which she is requesting that he abide by the order.

If the judge finds the ex-husband is in contempt, he or she may order the ex-husband to pay a certain amount of the alimony on that same day or within a certain timeframe in order to avoid jail time.

Income Withholding or Garnishment

With a support order in place, some states allow a spouse to have funds automatically withheld from an ex-spouse’s paycheck. If an income withholding order was not included with the original order for support, a spouse may request the court to include such an order as part of the contempt case.

In other areas, the ex-wife would have to get a judgment against the ex-husband in which she must show that the debt is owed. Once a judgment was issued, the ex-spouse could then submit a writ of garnishment to the ex-husband’s employer, instructing it to withhold a certain amount of money from each paycheck based on state law. Each jurisdiction has specific rules about how much income can be garnished and wish types of income are exempt from garnishment, such as unemployment or Social Security benefits. Some states do not allow these exemptions to apply to spousal support obligations while others do. There are sometimes also different rules for support orders that combine child support and spousal support and those orders that only
apply to spousal support awards.

Other Collection Methods

There may be other ways to collect unpaid spousal support, depending on state law. A judge may order these efforts or they may be available through another method, such as by requesting the collecting center to institute certain action. For example, a driver’s license or professional license may be suspended if support continues to go unpaid. A bank account may be garnished under certain conditions. The ex-husband’s tax return, lottery winnings, rents and profits or other income may be seized. An unpaid judgment creditor including an ex-spouse may also file a lien against property that the ex-husband owns. A business owner can have money taken from his cash register as sales come in. The sheriff may seize property and sell it at a special sheriff’s sale, providing the ex-spouse with the proceeds.

Provided by HG.org

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication at the time it was written. It is not intended to provide legal advice or suggest a guaranteed outcome as individual situations will differ and the law may have changed since publication. Readers considering legal action should consult with an experienced lawyer to understand current laws and.how they may affect a case.

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