What Happens if My Ex-Spouse Won’t Pay Alimony in California?

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When you and your spouse divorce, you may wonder how you will afford your lifestyle, especially if your spouse is a higher-earner. To help you until you can begin making your own income, you can receive spousal support payments. However, if you discover that your ex-spouse won’t pay alimony despite the court order, you may feel unsure where to turn. Luckily, the following blog explores what you should do if your spouse refuses to make payments and how Los Angeles spousal support attorneys can assist you through these frustrating issues.

How Is Spousal Support Determined?

There is a misconception that the lower-earning spouse in the relationship will automatically receive alimony after the divorce is finalized. However, if a spouse wishes to receive alimony, they must request it in the divorce petition. If a couple has agreed to a divorce before filing, they may have the terms of the separation determined, including how much alimony the recipient spouse will receive. Similarly, if the couple has a pre-nuptial agreement, the terms of alimony payments have likely been established. However, if a couple cannot agree on the terms of their divorce, the court will step in to make a decision. As such, a judge will consider the following factors when awarding spousal support:

  • The income of each spouse
  • How long the spouses were married
  • The earning capacity of each spouse
  • The financial and domestic contributions made by each spouse during the marriage
  • Whether or not one spouse sacrificed their career to support the other
  • Whether the recipient spouse would need education or training to reenter the workforce

For marriages that lasted less than ten years, alimony payments will generally last half the length of the marriage. However, there are no guidelines for marriages over ten years, and it will be left to the courts to determine how long this will last.

What Should I Do if My Ex-Spouse Won’t Pay Alimony?

The first time your ex misses a payment, you may think it was a mistake or glitch. However, when they consistently do not give you the funds you are legally entitled to, it can be incredibly frustrating. Unfortunately, many couples who divorce may not be on amicable terms, which may influence the spouse’s decision not to make payments.

It’s important to document each missed or refused payment and contact your attorney. They can help petition the court to receive the full amount you are owed by your spouse. These overdue payments are referred to as “arrears.” You are even entitled to 10% interest per year for unpaid alimony. If your spouse still refuses to pay, the judge may order their wages to be garnished or even hold them in contempt of court.

When you need assistance with any facet of your divorce, the Zitser Family Law Group, APC, is ready to help. We have the experience you need to guide you through the complexities of this process to achieve the best possible outcome for your circumstances. Contact us today to learn how we can assist you.

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