When spousal support, also known as spousal maintenance or alimony, is court-ordered, it must be paid. Failure to pay alimony in California has its consequences. If you are the one ordered to pay, you may have an option: you can file a petition to modify spousal support based on changed circumstances. If you are the one owed spousal support, you have remedies.
At Szeto-Wong Law, our family law lawyer in Cupertino will advise you accordingly when either you or your ex-spouse has failed to pay spousal support. Adhering to the law is important. It's also important to remember you have options. Contact us today either online or at (650) 425-6264 to schedule a consultation and get specific information about your case.
What Should You Do When an Ex-Spouse Fails to Pay Court-Ordered alimony in California?
If you are divorced and your ex-spouse is court-ordered to pay you spousal support, it is likely that you depend on that income to help pay for your living expenses. What recourse do you have when your ex fails to pay the court-ordered support?
In most cases, you can file a motion with the court to ask that a judge review your case and order your ex-spouse to pay the amount in arrears and comply with the order by making all future payments.
How Are Alimony Orders Enforced in California?
In addition to filing the motion mentioned above, most jurisdictions offer several different ways to enforce alimony payments when the party ordered to make them fails to comply with the court order. Some of the most common ways include income withholding, contempt of court, and writ of execution.
Income withholding is when your ex-spouse's employer takes the amount your ex-spouse owes you in alimony out of their paycheck. This ensures you receive the amount you are owed before your ex-spouse even receives the funds. Employers will typically only implement income withholding when there is a court order in place and the appropriate state and federal forms have been completed.
Contempt of Court
By not paying the alimony as ordered by the court, your ex-spouse may be held in contempt of court. This requires filing a motion in court. At the hearing, the court will hear evidence as to why your ex-spouse should be held in contempt. If the judge agrees, an order may be issued that includes additional fines, jail time, your attorney's fees, or other sanctions.
Writ of Execution
It may be possible to have a Writ of Execution issued. A Writ of Execution is an order issued by the court that allows the personal property of your ex-spouse to be seized, sold, and then the proceeds from the sale used to pay the past-due alimony. This method may also be used to collect money from your ex-spouse's bank accounts.
Do I Need a Family Law Attorney in Cupertino to Collect Overdue Alimony?
It is possible for you to file the motion asking for the court's help in enforcing the alimony order on your own. However, if you do not properly file it, the case may not go in your favor. It's typically in your best interest to seek the assistance of a family law attorney in your area. Some situations where it may be beneficial to have a lawyer's guidance include situations where:
- You are unable to locate your ex-spouse to serve them with a motion
- Your spouse's employer refuses to withhold the alimony from his pay
- Your spouse works and is able to pay the alimony, but is paid “under the table”
A spousal support lawyer in California is also critical to make sure that you complete and properly file:
- Paperwork to have income withholding initiated
- Motion for Contempt of Court
- Writ of Execution
- Additional court motions for enforcement
Motions and court filings can be intimidating. Plus, they are often attached to deadlines, the latter of which if missed could mean your complaint or motion fails.
Contact a alimony Lawyer for Failure to Pay in Cupertino
Don't let failure to pay spousal support in California prevent you from what's fair and just. You have options––whether you need to modify alimony or receive past-due payments, contact Szeto-Wong Law online or call us directly at (650) 425-6264 to schedule a consultation. Our family law attorney will help you understand your rights and responsibilities, and ensure the process is properly followed.