5 min read
My Ex Won’t Pay Alimony. Now What?
An already stressful divorce brings fears about how this life change will impact your future income and ability to pay your bills. To offset this, you may be awarded alimony as part of your divorce settlement. However, the reality is that having a judge order your ex to pay alimony doesn’t automatically guarantee that they’ll pay it.
It’s natural to feel scared and to wonder what you can do if your ex doesn’t pay the funds you need. Let’s look at your rights and how you should handle such a worrisome situation.
What Should I Do First if My Ex Won’t Pay Alimony?
Your first step is to contact your ex. The legal process of getting your alimony payments isn’t quick – and it involves a lot of legal paperwork as well as going to court, which is both time-consuming and costly. You don’t want to do all of this for a simple misunderstanding. Start by asking your ex if it was an oversight or if there’s something else going on.
Once you’ve contacted your ex and you know this isn’t a communication issue – and it’s been more than 30 days since you received your monthly alimony payment – then it’ll be time to take legal action.
Steps to Take When Your Ex Doesn’t Pay Alimony
Once it becomes apparent that communication isn’t going to work and legal action is necessary, you’ll need to contact an attorney. It’s important to find the right lawyer because what you want is a “family law attorney for life.” It’s entirely possible that you might need them again further down the line for post-divorce issues like alimony.
A divorce isn’t always final. If you have kids or are receiving alimony or child support, then you may need to adjust the divorce order. It’s important to have a lawyer you can create a relationship with instead of changing, and then needing to update the new attorney every time.
This can have additional benefits as sometimes information can fall through the cracks when using multiple attorneys. An experienced family law attorney who has worked with you throughout your family issues will know the history and have all of your documentation.
Once you have an attorney, they’ll file a motion with the court asking to enforce the alimony payment. This can lead to substantial penalties for your ex.
Remedies You Can Ask the Court to Consider When Alimony Isn’t Paid
Contempt Motion: The first thing your attorney will likely do is file a contempt motion and have your ex held in contempt of court. Usually, a judge will order the former spouse to pay the alimony and, if they do so, that will be the end of the matter.
However, if your ex ignores the contempt order and still refuses to pay what they owe, the judge can order them to be placed in jail until they pay you the back alimony. Your ex (or friends or someone in their family) might cough up the money quickly to get them out of jail.
Wage Garnishment: Many attorneys will suggest this as a potential first step when the original divorce decree is issued. By doing this, the money for your alimony would be automatically deducted from your ex’s paycheck each month.
If you didn’t get this set up in the beginning and are now having problems with an uncooperative ex, you may want to consider petitioning the court for such a move. This means that you won’t have to worry about getting your alimony each month because it’ll come to you like clockwork.
The only issues here may be if your ex loses his or her job. Then, the wage garnishment would stop until they once again find employment.
Seizure of Assets: If your ex owes you a substantial amount from multiple months of missed alimony, then you can file a writ of execution. If granted, the court could seize their assets, such as savings accounts and investments as well as physical property, to help pay off the missing money.
Money Judgment: Another option for a lot of back alimony is to ask the judge for a money judgment. This means that your ex will have to pay everything (including interest on the money owed) and they can have a lien put on their home if they don’t. It also negatively impacts their credit rating.
Legal Fees: Finally, you want to make sure that your legal fees in this process are covered. Most judges will award legal fees on top of the owed alimony since it’s not your fault that your ex refused to pay what they owed you.
What Happens to My Ex if They Don’t Make Payments?
New Jersey courts don’t take defaulting on alimony payments lightly. Some of the penalties, in addition to the alimony they owe, can include:
- Daily fines
- Loss of driver’s license
- Loss of financial assets
- Property loss
- Extension of the amount of time they are required to pay alimony.
The penalties depend on the length and severity of the non-payments.
Good News: New Jersey Courts Take Alimony Seriously
If your ex-spouse is behind on making alimony payments, you don’t have to accept this. Contact a qualified and experienced family attorney licensed in New Jersey and begin the steps to stabilize your post-divorce finances.
Contact the Experienced Family Law Attorneys at Smedley Law Group in Woodbury, NJ Today
If you’re thinking about filing for divorce, you’ll also most likely be dealing with another matter like alimony, child custody, child support, or division of assets, so you’ll need to speak with a qualified attorney. The New Jersey family law attorneys at Smedley Law Group represent clients throughout the state, including West Deptford, Woodbury Heights, Runnemede, and Westville. We understand how challenging this time can be for you, which is why we will fight hard to protect your interests, and the interests of your loved ones, throughout the legal process. Call us at (856) 251-0800 or fill out our confidential contact form to schedule a consultation. We have an office conveniently located at 750 Cooper Street, Woodbury, NJ 08096.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.