What Are the Consequences of Not Paying Court-Ordered Alimony in Massachusetts?

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Once divorce proceedings have been finalized, it’s not uncommon for an individual to feel a sense of relief and eagerness to move forward with the next chapter in their life. However, if their former spouse is not upholding their alimony obligation, it can be challenging to make such a transition. If your former spouse refuses to pay or is behind in paying you, it’s essential to contact our proficient Bristol County Alimony Lawyers, who can help you explore your legal options and ensure that your ex-partner is providing you with the financial support you’re entitled to receive. Please continue reading to learn about the potential penalties an individual can face for failing to comply with court-ordered alimony in Massachusetts.

What is Alimony?

When a dependent spouse requires financial assistance during or after a divorce, the court will consider several factors to determine whether awarding alimony is appropriate. If they determine it’s appropriate, the court will order the higher-earning spouse to provide the lower-earning spouse with this type of financial support. Alimony aims to address the financial inequality that may exist in some marriages. Essentially, it gives the dependent spouse the funds needed to continue living the lifestyle they had been accustomed to during the marriage.

It’s crucial to understand that alimony isn’t automatically awarded. The dependent spouse must request alimony through the court. Typically, it’s only awarded to a spouse in a long-term marriage lasting more than ten years. In most cases, this type of financial support will continue until the payor’s death, remarriage, or the terms outlined in a court order. If a spouse refuses to pay or fails to keep up to date with their maintenance payments, it can result in civil or criminal charges for the payer.

What Should I Do If My Spouse Isn’t Complying With Court-Ordered Alimony in Massachusetts?

If your ex-partner isn’t complying with their alimony obligation, you can file a petition with the court, asking the judge to enforce the court order. It’s important to understand that once the court has ordered alimony, it must be paid. Therefore, if your former spouse isn’t paying you the court-ordered alimony you should be receiving, the court can take the following measures to ensure they uphold their legal obligation:

  • Wage garnishment: The court will direct your former spouse’s employer to deduct a particular portion of their paycheck and send that portion directly to the individual to whom their employee owes the debt.
  • Writ of Execution: This court order allows you to take a debtor’s property when that debtor will not pay you what they owe. This means the court can seize your former spouse’s property or place a lien on their property.
  • Interception of tax refunds:Β The court can intercept your former spouse’s federal and state tax refunds to pay the unpaid alimony you are owed.
  • Driver’s license suspension: In some cases, the court may suspend your former spouse’s driving privileges until they pay the unpaid alimony you are owed.
  • Contempt of court: The court can charge your former spouse with contempt for willfully failing to uphold their alimony obligation. This means that to collect unpaid alimony, they may be fined or jailed temporarily until they make the necessary payments.

As you can see, when an individual does not uphold their alimony obligation, the court will take the above-listed measures to ensure it’s paid. If your spouse isn’t complying with court-ordered alimony, please don’t hesitate to contact a dedicated Bristol County alimony lawyer from The Law Offices of Cynthia L. Hanley, P.C., who can protect your rights.