Unpaid Spousal Support
When it comes to spousal support there are only a few good reasons for skipping payments, such as loss of income. If you do have a good reason for skipping alimony payments you will need to file a petition to modify the alimony or spousal support payments. Whatever your reason, be it loss of a job or other financial changes, do not suddenly stop making alimony payments. Consult with a spousal support attorney for guidance on the appropriate steps you need to take to avoid financial and legal complications. A divorce attorney can help you file a motion that will temporarily reduce or suspend your alimony payments.
Potential Consequences for Missed Alimony Payments
Judges don’t take kindly to spouses who disregard court-ordered spousal support payments, and California family law courts have a number of tools to ensure spouses make payments consistently. If you do not contact your ex-spouse and come to a negotiated agreement in regard to the alimony payments your spouse will most likely ask the family court for help. A motion for enforcement will be filed and you can face serious penalties.
If the court rules in favor of your ex-spouse, they may withhold part of your income, award you part of your spouse’s bank accounts and other assets and issue a money judgment against your spouse with interest. The judge can also order the county to confiscate your delinquent financial estate and rents from real estate. Additionally, the courts can hold you in contempt of court and even order jail time for continued failure to abide by the court-ordered alimony payments.
A Qualified Domestic Relations Order
A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) is a court order that recognizes a payee’s right to receive benefits payable to a participant in a retirement plan. It is one of the methods a family court can use ensure that alimony payments are made.
A judge can use a QDRO to ensure that your ex-spouse receives your retirement benefits including pension plans and 401Ks. It is important for you to know that if you do not make your alimony payments, a judge can order that any and all arrears, as well as future payments, be paid through your retirement plans.
Do I Need an Attorney?
To recap, it is important to understand that even though you may have a good reason to stop your alimony payments, such as loss of a job, you should not stop making payments. You have a legal obligation to continue making payments until a judge orders otherwise. It is also important to keep in mind that unless your ex-spouse remarries, you will have to resume alimony payments sooner than later. When that happens you will need to file a modification so that the alimony payments reflect your current financial circumstances, among other factors. Speak with a California divorce attorney to learn what your rights and responsibilities before you stop or restart alimony payments.