Regardless of whether you have an amicable relationship with your former spouse, if they are failing to make alimony payments, you need to know your options. Failure to pay could be a deliberate act of rebellion, or it could be due to monetary problems or even a mistake.
Massachusetts law gives you a way to enforce court-ordered obligations like alimony. But sometimes, a different approach might get you better results.
Find Out the Reason
If your ex set up alimony payments to be made automatically from regular paychecks or a bank account, it is possible that an administrative mistake is preventing payments from reaching you. Before you lash out in anger, try asking—or having someone else ask—if payments are being made and the mechanism for making payments. If your ex admits they are not paying, this is the natural opportunity to ask why.
If your ex has lost a job or suffered certain other economic setbacks with long-term effects, it may be impossible to make alimony payments for the near future. Your ex might be justified in asking the court for an amendment to the order requiring alimony, so you should adjust your financial plans accordingly. You might have your attorney negotiate a temporary arrangement, which could potentially include back payments at a later date. Having your lawyer draw up an agreement will ensure that your rights are protected and it lets your ex know that you are prepared to take legal action if payments do not resume within a reasonable time.
Dealing with a Hostile Ex
In many cases, of course, former spouses fail to pay alimony as a way to lash out. They may not answer when you ask about payments, or they might lie about making them. Get your evidence together to show exactly how your ex is defying court-ordered obligations, whether by making payments irregularly, incompletely, or not at all.
Then consult your attorney to discuss the approach you want to take to enforce your rights.
Filing an Enforcement Order
Your lawyer can file a motion for enforcement of the court-ordered alimony payment. The court can help obtain payments through:
- Wage garnishment deducting part of your ex’s paycheck and sending it to you
- Writ of Execution seizing some of your ex’ property to pay alimony obligations
- Incarceration if your spouse is found to be in contempt of court
The last enforcement options will not get you money directly, of course, but can force your spouse to take the obligation seriously.
Another option could include working with a mediator to develop terms for a new support order. Your attorney would provide advice during the mediation process and review the new order to ensure that it protects your interests and rights. Then you submit it to the judge for approval.
Your Attorney Can Help When Your Ex Won’t Pay
When a spouse refuses to pay support as ordered, it is best to address the matter immediately. Your attorney may be able to negotiate a resolution to get payments back on track. If you need to get the court involved in enforcement, it is helpful to get proceedings under way quickly. The court will not enforce any alimony arrangements that are not included in a court order, so it is important to work with an experienced attorney when dealing with alimony payments.
At Koiles Pratt Family Law Group, we understand the hardship and frustration that results when your ex won’t pay alimony, and we are ready to help. Contact us today to get started.