During divorce proceedings, a spouse may be awarded alimony if he or she earned substantially less than the other spouse during the marriage. In the alternative, a spouse may be awarded alimony if he or she is leaving the marriage at a financial disadvantage and requires monetary support to move forward.
Alimony is awarded with the intent to balance the financial status of each spouse after divorce. It is intended to promote financial stability after the two parties have separated. Spouses are awarded alimony because the court sees a financial inequity and/or a financial need that must be filled. When the spouse ordered to pay alimony stops paying alimony, the spouse who is supposed to be receiving alimony payments can feel serious financial impacts. If your spouse has stopped paying court-ordered alimony, you have legal options.
What Can I Do If My Spouse Stops Paying Alimony?
First, the reason for a spouse failing to make required alimony payments is relevant to what can be done. If the paying spouse fails to make timely alimony payments or make alimony payments in the full amount ordered by the court, but the failure to pay was due to an inability pay, the court will follow a different course of action than if it was a willful or intentional failure to pay. A paying spouse may be suffering financially for a number of different reasons. There may have been a sudden job loss or illness resulting in substantial medical bills and the inability to work.
The burden is on the paying spouse to request a modification of an alimony award from the court if he or she is unable to make the court-ordered alimony payment. If the paying spouse fails to do so, you can file a Motion for Contempt with the court. The court will most likely either order your former spouse to seek modification of the alimony award or, if the lack of payment is due to job loss, may order your former spouse to seek employment through the Florida State Employment Services.
If your spouse has consistently failed to make timely alimony payments or to make the payments in the full amount as ordered by the court, you can file a Motion for Contempt with the court. Some paying spouses don’t pay alimony because they are looking to punish a former spouse or they think the alimony award is unfair. Either way, if the nonpayment is willful and intentional, the court can find the spouse in contempt of court for violating a court order. You must be able to show the court that the paying spouse has the ability to pay the court-ordered alimony award.
If it is found that the paying spouse has the ability to pay and willfully and intentionally failed to make the payments, then the court has wide discretion in determining the proper punishment and enforcement mechanism. The court may enter a criminal contempt order that will have criminal penalties. The court may order that the unpaid alimony be withdrawn from the paying spouse’s financial estate. Additionally, the court may order wage garnishment. With wage garnishment, the paying spouse will have the alimony withdrawn from his or her wages in order to ensure that the receiving spouse gets the ordered alimony payments.
Florida Divorce Attorneys
At Orlando Family Team, our divorce attorneys are here to help. We help with all matters related to divorce, whether you are considering a divorce, in the midst of divorce proceedings, or are post-divorce and having issues related to things like alimony or child support. Contact us today.