What Happens When Alimony Is Not Paid?

Gavel sitting on top of a pile of money

Alimony, or spousal support, is designed to keep a dependent spouse financially afloat and to maintain their standard of living when a marriage ends. While alimony is a source of animosity between a divorced couple, the supporting spouse must comply with court-ordered alimony payments. Whether out of spite or for financial reasons, failure to abide by alimony orders can have serious consequences.

Judgment for Arrearages and Contempt

If a spouse fails to pay any sum of money required in an alimony order by the time it is due, that spouse is in default. When this occurs, a court can enter a judgment for arrearages that sets forth how much that spouse owes—which includes the arrearages, costs of collecting the arrearages, and attorney’s fees. In enforcing this judgment, courts are authorized to use any manner provided by the law for collecting money judgments, including:

  • Paycheck withholding.
  • A lien on property or accounts.
  • A suspension of the spouse’s driver’s license.
  • Reporting the debt to credit agencies.

In addition to a judgment for arrearages, a court can also enforce an alimony order by contempt. A court can find a spouse in contempt of court for willfully violating a court order, which can come with the serious consequences of monetary sanctions or even jail time. Notably, contempt is a last resort, and the court will generally give a spouse a reasonable opportunity and method of repaying the arrearages.

What To Do If You Cannot Pay Your Obligation

If you cannot afford your alimony obligation, you need to speak with a family law attorney immediately. Failure to abide by orders is something that courts take seriously. Since alimony arrearages do not go away, and you face tremendous financial consequences or even jail time, it is in your interest to seek a modification of your obligation before you end up in this hole.

Contact Viloria, Oliphant, Oster & Aman L.L.P.

Viloria, Oliphant, Oster & Aman, L.L.P. is a full-service law firm that serves men and women in Nevada. Our family law attorneys are experienced and highly-regarded. We take pride in working hard, keeping our clients informed, and making sure their voices are heard. If you want help ending your marriage and protecting your significant legal rights, call Viloria, Oliphant, Oster & Aman L.L.P. today at (775) 227-2280 to schedule an appointment or contact our office through our website.

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