Rings on top of stacks of hundreds, representing alimony

What Happens If My Ex Stops Paying Alimony?

By David Hammond

Spousal maintenance, commonly referred to as “alimony,” is a court-ordered payment that one former spouse must make to the other former spouse for an amount and for a period of time established in the court order. Sometimes, the former spouse obligated to make alimony payments, the “payor” spouse, will fail to make the required payments. This may occur for a number of reasons. The payor spouse may have lost a job or experienced sudden financial hardship due to something such as a medical emergency. The payor spouse may also have simply decided to no longer pay alimony. If your former spouse has failed in his or her alimony payments, it is important to contact an experienced divorce attorney.

What Happens If My Ex Stops Paying Alimony

If your former spouse has stopped making court-ordered alimony payments, the first step is to try and find out why this has happened. If it is due to something like job loss, or another reason for a substantial loss of financial resources, then the best course of action may be to have your ex seek a modification for the court-ordered alimony. If there is seemingly no justifiable reason as to why your former spouse has violated a court order and stopped paying alimony, you will need to go to court to seek enforcement of the court order.

When you go to court seeking enforcement of court-ordered alimony, the court has several options. A judge may hold your ex in contempt of court. This may include issuing an order demanding your former spouse compensate you for any missed payments as well as an additional fine for failing to make the payments in the first place. In cases where a spouse continues to defy court orders to make alimony payments, a judge may send the spouse to jail.

In order to get you the alimony that was ordered by the court, a judge may also choose to withhold your former’s spouse’s income. In other words, their wages would be garnished. The employer of your former spouse would be notified of the court order and would be instructed to withhold a certain amount from each paycheck of your former spouse. The withheld portion would be sent to you directly. If your ex is self-employed, the court may order that a trust be set up to put money aside for your alimony award. The court may also order that you be awarded a portion of your former spouse’s financial accounts. This may come from a bank account or other financial investment accounts.

When a court orders payment regarding unpaid alimony obligations, the amount may include the full amount you are owed plus any interest on this amount. You may also be awarded attorney fees. Further still, the court may order compensation for you for expenses you incurred as a result of the alimony non-payment such as interest incurred on credit cards, etc.

Syracuse Family Law Attorneys

If you have not been paid the alimony you are owed, CDH Law is here to help. Contact us today.

About the Author
David is a former military prosecutor and defense lawyer with over a decade of experience fighting for service members and their families. He served nine years and two combat tours as an active duty US Army officer, then joined the Reserves and settled down in Syracuse to be near family. Now representing people across Central New York charged with serious felonies, misdemeanors, DWIs, and traffic offenses, he puts the same level of commitment into his civilian law practice. If you have any questions regarding this article, you can contact David here.