Spousal maintenance is never automatic during a divorce. You and your spouse can either agree to maintenance yourselves or a judge can decide the issue. Sometimes this is a contentious topic, and other times your ex may readily agree to support you following the divorce. No matter how your maintenance is determined, once it is set, your ex-spouse has a duty to uphold the arrangement. However, despite a legal obligation to do so, some individuals choose not to pay. If your ex is behind on payments, it is time to look into how you can enforce spousal maintenance.
Contact a Lawyer
If you do not receive your spousal maintenance as defined by the court order or settlement, the first thing you should do is call an experienced spousal maintenance attorney from Fay, Farrow & Associates. Contacting your ex-spouse about the issue may be enough to get your support back on track. However, you should not communicate with him or her without understanding your rights and your options if talking does not resolve the issue. You may also have more leverage with your ex if you are backed by an experienced lawyer and prepared to return to court.
Return to Court
If your ex-spouse is not paying court-ordered support, your attorney can file an action in court. Once you prove to the judge that your ex is behind, the judge has the discretion to order a number of outcomes. To ensure you are paid what you are owed with interest, the judge can order that your ex’s wages, bank accounts, or tax returns be garnished. If you file an action for contempt of court and your ex is found guilty, then the judge could fine or jail your ex, though imprisonment is rare.
Additionally, your attorney can pursue a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) to retrieve a portion or all of the maintenance owed from your ex-spouse’s retirement or pension benefits. If your ex is self-employed and wage garnishment is not an option, this may be a good option for you situation.
Seek Criminal Charges
Under 750 ILCS 16/15, failure to pay support can be charged as a Class A misdemeanor or Class 4 felony. It is ultimately up to a prosecutor to file this charge against your ex, but your lawyer can file a verified complaint with the state’s attorney’s office to begin the proceedings.
If your ex is found to be willfully refusing to pay maintenance he or she knows you need, willfully failing to pay the obligation for at least 6 months or is in arrears of at least $5,000, then he or she can be found guilty of misdemeanor and punished with jail time, fines, and full restitution of the support owed to you with interest.
If your ex left the state in order to evade the court-ordered support regardless of how much unpaid maintenance has accrued, has willfully not paid support in at least one year, is at least $20,000 in arrears or has failed to pay support for a second time, then he or she may be charged with a felony. The felony will result in a longer imprisonment, higher fines, and restitution of everything owed to you with interest.
A DuPage County Spousal Maintenance Attorney is Here to Help
When your ex-spouse refuses to pay alimony, you may find yourself in a tight financial situation. Working with an attorney again or for the first time may seem intimidating, however partnering with an experienced lawyer from Fay, Farrow & Associates is the most efficient way to ensure your maintenance is paid on time and that any arrears are paid to you with interest. We will review your situation, answer your questions, and develop a plan to pursue what you are owed.