› Real Experience
› Real Compassion
› Real Results

Super Lawyers Geoffrey Hamilton
Best Lawyers The Worlds Premier Guide
Peer Rated For Ethical Standards And Legal Ability 2016
Bar Register Preeminent Lawyers
Best Lawyers In Hawaii
Best Lawyers 2021 Hamilton and Chan LLC

What happens if my ex-spouse fails to pay alimony?

On Behalf of | May 24, 2024 | Family Law

Alimony, also called spousal support, is a court-ordered financial agreement that is sometimes made during a divorce. It helps the lower-earning spouse maintain financial stability after the marriage ends.

When a court has ruled that you should receive alimony payments, what happens if your ex-spouse stops paying alimony as required?

Consequences of nonpayment

Failing to pay court-ordered alimony can have serious consequences.

  • Contempt of court: The court may find your ex in contempt, meaning they disobeyed a court order. This can result in fines.
  • Wage garnishment: The court may order the wage garnishment of your ex-spouse’s wages. This means a portion of their paycheck goes directly to you to cover missed payments.
  • Property liens: The court may place a lien on your ex-spouse’s assets, preventing them from selling them without paying off the alimony debt.

If your ex misses payments, do not wait before acting as some states may have time limits when it comes to enforcing overdue alimony payments.

What you can do about it

You should gather proof first, before you formally file a complaint. This includes documents of missed payments with copies of bank statements and canceled checks. With the help of legal counsel, you may also file a motion for contempt to enforce the court order and let it act as a deterrent to prevent future missed payments.

However, it is important to consider alternatives before filing a motion for contempt. You can try negotiating a payment plan that is more manageable for your ex-spouse or mediation that can help you and your ex mutually agree on a solution outside of court.

FindLaw Network