What Happens if I Don’t Have the Financial Means to Pay Alimony?

money wedding ring

In many divorces, alimony is a contentious issue. Alimony or spousal support is awarded when one party’s income is significantly lower than the other’s. Essentially, alimony is designed to provide a dependent spouse with financial support to maintain the standard of living they were accustomed to during the marriage after divorce. Once alimony is ordered, it must be paid. Understandably, a person’s financial circumstances can change over time. If you don’t have the financial means to make court-ordered alimony payments, you may wonder what you can do. Failure to pay alimony can result in serious legal ramifications. Please continue reading and contact our compassionate Bristol County Alimony Lawyers, who can help you file a petition to modify your existing alimony order. 

What Are the Consequences of Not Paying Alimony?

Alimony payments are court-ordered, and Massachusetts courts impose strict measures to ensure the payments are made. Failure to make payments on time and in full can result in the following consequences:

  • Income withholding: The court may decide to garnish your paycheck. Your employer will be advised to take the amount you owe in alimony out of your paycheck. They can also intercept your state and federal tax refunds.
  • Contempt of court: If the recipient’s spouse decides to report your nonpayment to the court, you could face a contempt charge. This can lead to steep monetary fines, paying the recipient’s spouse’s attorney fees, jail time, and other sanctions.
  • Writ of Execution: Sometimes, a judge may issue a Writ of Execution. This allows the court to seize and sell your personal property. The proceeds from the sale are then used to pay the past-due alimony. It’s important to note that this method can also be used to collect money from your bank account.
  • Suspension of Licenses: The court can suspend your driver’s and any professional licenses until you pay all your alimony arrears.

What Should I Do If I Don’t Have the Financial Capacity to Pay?

If you no longer have the financial means to pay alimony, you should communicate with your ex-spouse about your situation. You should inform your spouse if you’re facing financial stress because of a job loss or a reduced salary. Given your change in financial circumstances, this will allow you to work together to find a solution. If you cannot reach an agreement, you should consider filing a motion for modification.

When seeking an alimony modification, you must demonstrate that there has been a substantial change in your financial circumstances that renders you unable to fulfill your obligation as presently required. Essentially, you must show that you have a legitimate reason for being unable to afford alimony and that the change in your circumstances was involuntary. If you need to terminate or reduce alimony, please don’t hesitate to contact a trusted lawyer from The Law Offices of Cynthia L. Hanley, P.C., who can help you protect your rights.