What Happens if I Don’t Pay my Alimony?
Updated: Aug 21
Alimony is what Spousal Support was called in California before they changed the name in the Family Code. For this blog, we’ll call it alimony because many people still use the term.
Alimony is when one spouse is ordered to pay a certain sum of money to their ex-spouse each month after a divorce. Alimony is ordered by the court, and the payments continue until the court orders the payments to stop or other requirements are met.
If you stop making alimony payments (regardless of the reason), you could face civil or criminal charges for contempt of court. Contempt of court means that you violated a court order during your divorce proceedings.
If the paying spouse does not pay alimony the court might order the money to be directly withdrawn from their regular paycheck. The paying spouse’s employer will be instructed to withhold the alimony amount from their paycheck and send it directly to the supported spouse. This arrangement guarantees that alimony is paid promptly and regularly.
Other consequences of not paying alimony can include:
● Property liens: The court places a lien on your property, which prohibits it from being sold until your alimony has been paid in full.
● Property seizure: The court orders that any of your assets of value can be seized in order to cover the cost of paying your alimony. This includes physical property, bank accounts balances, rental income, royalties, and dividends.
● Tax refund designation: The court declares that your income tax refund must be used to pay your unpaid alimony.
● Contempt of court: A judge recognizes that you are in contempt of the court’s order to pay alimony, and orders you to pay a fine, go to jail, or both. You could even be ordered to stay in jail until you pay what you owe.
● Judgment and interest: This occurs when you owe a large amount of unpaid alimony and your former spouse files for a judgment against you. In these situations, if a judge finds for your former spouse, you are responsible for paying the full amount, plus interest accrued during the duration of your failure to pay, as well as your former spouse’s legal fees.
As the above scenarios demonstrate, failing to make your regular alimony payments can have severe consequences. Failure to pay alimony does not always occur for malicious reasons. Difficult life circumstances like a lost job, pay cut, and medical issues are legitimate reasons that negatively impact your ability to pay alimony. Regardless of the reasons, if you need help making changes to your alimony agreement, give us a call! We are here to help! (909) 377-8141
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