Consequences for Failing to Pay Alimony

The media gives a lot of attention to deadbeat dads who fail to pay their court ordered child support, but many people seeking a Pasadena divorce fail to realize that there are also consequences for someone who does not pay legally ordered alimony or spousal support.

Alimony is money paid to your former spouse for his or her expenses. It is not awarded in every divorce case and is generally given only if there is a large earning potential discrepancy between the spouses and the lower earning spouse needs time to become self-sufficient after the divorce. Alimony awards are entirely separate from child support.

When you fall behind on court ordered spousal support payments, you will need to pay a 10% per year interest charge on the balance that is due. A judge can't stop the interest charges from accumulating; they are added automatically by law.

If you fall behind on court ordered spousal support due to a job loss, medical problems, or a drastic change in income, you can file a Spousal or Partner Support Declaration Attachment (Form FL-157) explaining your change in circumstances and asking the California court to lower your support payments. Your payments will not be lowered and interest will continue to accumulate until you submit this form.

If you have the means to pay court ordered spousal support, but are deliberately refusing to make payments to your ex, you can be held in contempt of court. This carries possible jail time, although jail time is usually considered a last resort enforcement method.

The local child support agency (LCSA) may get involved in the collection of spousal support if the person owing spousal support also owes child support as the result of the divorce settlement.

An experienced Pasadena divorce attorney can provide additional information regarding how to proceed if you are having trouble paying court ordered alimony or have an ex who is not making the necessary payments on time.