Family Law

What will happen if alimony is not paid?

Alimony payments are usually court-ordered. It means that any violation by the spouse, not paying alimony, is contempt of court. A breach of your alimony obligation can attract severe consequences and jail time. It should continue until stopped by the court.

What is Alimony?

When living together, the husband and wife build property and create wealth together. Whenever there is a separation, the court may obligate one spouse to give money to the other. Court-ordered alimony payments could be monthly or after certain weeks. It could be in the form of child support.

What are the Types of Alimony?

There are various types of alimony. They include;

  • General term alimony. It is spousal support offered to an ex-spouse whose needs are completely taken care of by the ex.
  • Rehabilitative alimony. In some divorces, spouses pay alimony to their ex-spouses after a specified period. The court directs future payments to the ex-spouse, who is expected to fend for themselves during certain times. They are wholly dependent on spousal support.
  •  Reimbursement alimony applies to spouses who were not married for more than five years. The judge could mean these costs for one partner to complete their education or specific training they began during the marriage.
  • Transitional alimony is only applicable to marriages that lasted under five years. It is meant to help the ex-spouse move on with their life.

What are the Consequences of not Making Alimony Payments?

When a spouse is compelled by the courts to pay alimony, they cannot escape it. A family law attorney will tell you that failure to meet your alimony obligation is punishable. If you want to stop paying alimony, you will have to review the decision in a family court. The consequence include;

1.    Depending on your jurisdiction, you may have your driving license revoked or be arrested and taken to jail.

2.    Regular violation of spousal support can open up criminal and civil charges. Alimony is regarded as court-ordered and should be taken seriously.

What happens if you don’t pay your alimony? First, you will be summoned by the court to make an appearance to explain your actions. You should always seek legal advice, and the best for this is always to appear when summoned.

The judge may order you to pay everything you owe to your spouse immediately or give you an extended time to complete the payments.

Well, it is not necessarily your ex-spouse that can file the complaint against violation of alimony obligation. Since it is court-ordered, state attorneys follow up and check if the ex-spouse pays alimony as directed by the courts.

At this point, to be on the safe side, you should begin making the payments or face the consequences.

How to enforce alimony if it is not paid?

Most spouses typically fall into contempt of court when they fail to pay alimony.

The spouse receiving the alimony is left stranded, wonders what to do next. Luckily, the judicial system is alert on defaulters and has provided avenues for help against those not paying for alimony.

How to enforce alimony if it is not paid?

Contempt: You should remember that you are in contempt of court when you are not paying alimony. It can attract extra fines from the judges. Many divorce cases with excessive violation of alimony violation have ended in jail time.

Writ of Execution: In this scenario, the court orders the alimony debt to be reclaimed through the sale and auctioning of your property. The court could offer personal property such as houses, cars or even bank account to the spouse receiving the alimony.

Income Withholding: Such instances are widespread in child support disputes. The court may direct the employer of the spouse paying alimony to directly transfer a specified percentage of the salary to the spouse receiving the maintenance.

How to Reduce Alimony Payments?

Paying for alimony is neither an easy nor an enjoyable task for most spouses. Some may feel that the decision was unfair after some time and finally seek to make changes.

Good legal advice suggests that you talk things over with your ex-spouse before heading to court.

If you cannot get your spouse to agree, you move to court. To decrease your alimony, you have to provide sufficient proof that your financial situation has changed. The reduction could be because;

1.    You have lost your job and therefore cannot afford the money, or your salary has been reduced, so the courts must make changes.

2.    The spouse has developed an illness or has become disabled. Unable to go to work as before.

3.    It could be because your ex-spouse has found and married a new partner. You could file for a reduction when they start living together.

4.    If you are the one paying alimony, you could monitor your ex-spouse’s income; if you notice an increment, file for a reduction.


Having an excellent attorney-client relationship will prove helpful in court hearings. This way, you can direct your family law attorney to make the best decisions for you. If you avoid paying alimony, you should be prepared for the consequences.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.