One of the most delicate situations caused by divorce is the awarding and collecting of spousal support payments. While the wage garnishment process attempts to alleviate the burden of collecting payments each month, there are situations in which people fall behind on their payments. Late alimony payments are stressful to deal with and it is important that you understand your rights in obtaining your spousal support in California.
While a significant “change in circumstances” can legally and temporarily give the spousal support payor the right to modify spousal support, there are serious consequences for neglecting to pay spousal support and judges typically favor the person receiving the support.
Delay Due to Financial Hardship
If your ex is falling behind on alimony payments, the first thing that you should do is try to understand why. It might be that your ex has suffered from a recent financial hardship such as the loss of a job, and you might want to take that into consideration before you let your frustration drive your decision-making.
If this is the case, and you believe that they will likely find a job soon and continue to pay the alimony payments, then you might want to consider creating a written agreement that modifies or temporarily suspends the required spousal support payments until your ex has a new source of income. If you chose to do this, it is highly advised to hire a spousal support lawyer so that you know that your rights are protected and you will continue to receive your mandated spousal support once the financial hardship is remedied.
Late Payments Due to Neglect
While the wage garnishment process tries to alleviate the burden of collecting payments, people who are self-employed or unemployed are not subject to having their wages garnished to pay spousal support. In these circumstances, you can fight for your spousal support by placing pressure on your ex to either obtain a job that fits their experience and earning capacity or maintain their payment schedule.
The state of California offers support in the form of the Local Child Support Agency (LCSA) (known as DCSS in Santa Clara County) if the parties have children and the spousal support affects the children’s well-being.
If the LCSA is not already involved in your spousal support, and you’re dealing with late alimony payments, then you should hire an attorney to help you in your fight to obtain your spousal support. You may have the following options:
- If your ex does not already have their wages garnished, then you can go to court to ask for an earnings assignment from the person’s employer.
- If you and your ex created an agreement that the payor would pay without a wage assignment, then you can ask the wage assignment to be reinstated.
- If your spouse owes you arrears (past due support), then you can ask a judge to adjust the earnings assignment so that the arrears are factored into the garnishment amount, and subject to 10 percent interest per year.
- If your ex has the financial means to meet the payment schedule and simply isn’t making payments, then you might want to go to court to have a judge intervene. Judges have the authority to use the full force of the law to enforce legally-binding alimony payments, and may hold the payor in contempt (fines or jail time) for not meeting their payments.
If the LCSA is already involved in your spousal support, then the organization can assist you with:
- Placing a lien on the payor’s bank accounts and real property
- Redirect a payor’s tax refunds or public benefits to help assist with the spousal payments
- Temporarily suspend a driver’s, business, or professional license
If you are facing difficulty with obtaining spousal support payments from your spouse in California, then it is strongly recommended to speak with a spousal support lawyer. LPEP specializes in divorce and family law and has the resources you need to help you obtain your owed alimony payments. Schedule a free consultation by clicking here or calling us at (408) 553-0801