What Are the Consequences of Refusing to Pay Alimony in New York?

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spouse counting alimony money

Alimony is also called spousal support or spousal maintenance. When this is ordered by a court, the payor is legally bound to send the payee the indicated amount on the schedule indicated. As such, there are legal consequences (remedies for the payee) when the payor refuses to make their alimony payments. In the interest of fairness, the payor who cannot pay is also allowed to petition the court to modify the alimony amount given the changed circumstances. However, this blog post will focus on the available remedies for a payee who has not received court-ordered alimony. If your ex is currently refusing to pay alimony, please this post thoroughly to inform yourself. Don’t forget that when you are struggling with alimony, whether paying it or receiving it, a Suffolk County alimony lawyer is just the person to advise and guide you.

What Can I Do if My Ex-Spouse is Refusing to Pay Alimony?

While in many cases payors have legitimate grievances, it is also true that payees often depend on alimony for their living expenses. That can create a big problem if the payee suddenly finds themselves missing needed funds because the payor couldn’t send them. In such a scenario, what options does the payee have?

Usually, a payee will file a motion with the court (just as the payor is free to file a motion with the court when they know ahead of time that they won’t be able to pay). The payee can ask the judge to review their case, and if the court finds in their favor, the judge will order the payor to (1) send the amount of alimony owed and (2) refrain from falling behind on payments in the future.

What Options Does the Payee Have Besides Filing a Motion?

Many jurisdictions also offer the payee remedies in addition to filing a motion with the court for alimony in arrears. Some well-known examples are income withholding, contempt of court, and writ of execution.

Income Withholding

When the payor’s income is withheld, that means the payor’s employer has subtracted the amount of alimony due from the payor’s paycheck. The purpose of this remedy is to make certain the payee receives exactly the amount due to them before the payor has access to the money. Employers are unlikely to withhold income unless there is a court order, supplemented by the necessary state and federal forms, indicating that they must.

Contempt of Court

If a payor doesn’t send the court-ordered amount of alimony, they may be held in contempt of court. You will need to file a motion requesting this, after which your legal team will present evidence to the court on why the payee should be considered in contempt of court. Should the judge agree with you, the court may issue an order with more fines and jail time for the payor and perhaps also the payee’s attorney fees, among other possible sanctions.

Writ of Execution

In some cases, you even be able to successfully request that the court issue a Writ of Execution. The Writ of Execution functions as a court order authorizing the seizure and sale of the payor’s property to pay the owed alimony. A Writ of Execution can also be used to request that the missing alimony be paid from the payor’s bank account.

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