When there is an order that a former spouse pay alimony to the other former spouse, it is imperative that the payments be made on time and in full. Circumstances may arise where the paying spouse (the obligor) is unemployed, underemployed or without income. For the supported former spouse, there are steps that can be taken to enforce the support order and compel the obligor to seek solutions to accrue the income to make the payments. The obligor may also have options. Understanding how the law addresses these issues is imperative.
What the court will do if unemployment prevents paying alimony
The receiving former spouse can inform the court that the alimony is not being paid because the obligor is unemployed, underemployed or does not earn income. Once the court determines that there is a delinquency or the obligor is behind in the payments, it can take certain steps including the following: ordering the obligor to seek employment; file reports with the appropriate department with the details of the efforts to seek employment; inform the court or department that employment was secured and how much income there is; or take part in training programs, a job placement program, work experience or other endeavor to garner employment. In some instances, a person might simply refuse to find work even after there has been a court order telling them to do so. If that happens, the person can be found in contempt.
Failure to pay alimony can cause serious problems
If a person fails to pay alimony, they must understand the potential penalties they might face. There could be alternatives available such as modifying the payments because of changed circumstances or cobbling together a workable agreement between the parties. With the current health situation sparking fundamental changes in employment and people who would otherwise be working finding themselves suddenly out of work, there may be ways to address the issue until the obligor is in a better place financially.
Whether it is from the perspective of the obligor or the supported former spouse, having legal assistance is essential with this or any other area of family law. Before the case spirals out of control and court intervention is needed, it is wise to consult with an experienced law firm that understands alimony. Calling for advice and assistance can provide information on how to proceed.