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What if I fall behind in my alimony in California?

Family law issues in California can be complex and difficult to navigate in any circumstance, but when there is a former spouse who has been ordered to pay alimony to the other spouse and cannot keep current with them, it is the foundation for dispute. There are certain legal matters that must be understood with alimony and other support. If a spouse has been ordered to pay, it is an enforceable court order until it is changed or ended. It might also have a specified date at which it concludes.

A person who has fallen behind in spousal support payments will be required to pay 10 percent interest on an annual basis for the balance. This is a matter of law and cannot be altered by the judge. When owing the past due support, there could be a court order or garnishment of wages to pay. Even if this is done, the interest will still accumulate.

A failure to pay the support can lead to significant consequences. For a person who is willfully not paying, it is possible that there will be a finding of contempt. That can lead to being jailed. This is generally perceived as a last resort. The spouse who is receiving alimony might be able to get assistance in enforcement from the local child support agency. While this is for child support, it can also help child support recipients with the collection of their alimony.

With any issue related to alimony and support, it can be an extended problem for everyone involved. It is usually preferable to avoid having to take the extreme steps of getting the courts involved, but sometimes it is necessary. No matter the situation, a legal professional experienced in family law can provide guidance and assistance with the paying or receiving spouse and any other factor in a case.

Source: courts.ca.gov, "Spousal/Partner Support -- Falling Behind in Spousal or Partner Support Payments," accessed on June 20, 2017

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