Alimony, or spousal support, is a court-enforced agreement awarded by a judge in divorce proceedings to financially support a lesser-earning spouse during and after a divorce. Either spouse can sue for alimony at any point before their divorce is finalized.
Alimony payments are intended to sustain the receiver during the divorce process and for a period of time afterward while the recipient works towards an earning situation to fully support themselves. Payments may continue for an extended or indefinite amount of time if there is a significant disparity in the earning potential of each spouse.
The three types of alimony are broken down by when they are paid and for how long:
Alimony pendente lite – maintains standard of living during the divorce proceedings. A grant of this type of alimony is not necessarily an indication of whether alimony will be granted for the longer term.
Rehabilitative alimony – helps one ex-spouse get back on their feet after the divorce and helps set them up to support themselves financially. Typically, the term of rehabilitative alimony lasts 3-10 years.
Indefinite alimony – continues with no end date. Usually awarded due to age, illness or disability that will prevent the recipient from supporting themselves, indefinite alimony may also be called for in cases where there is an “unconscionably disparate” standard of living between the ex-spouses.
Conditions of any of these arrangements may be modified at any point if it can be proven that a change in circumstances warrants a review of the alimony agreement.
If the paying ex-spouse feels that the situation has changed for any reason, they are obligated to go through the courts to have the alimony agreement reconsidered. Stopping payments without a change to the agreement can have serious consequences.
What are the Consequences for Not Paying Alimony?
If alimony payments simply stop coming in, a receiving ex-spouse may find it necessary to file a motion with the courts to enforce payment. Once the court becomes aware that the alimony is not being paid, it can hold the non-paying ex-spouse in contempt for violating the terms of the order. In addition to enforcing the late payment in question, the court may impose fees or other punishments on the delinquent ex-spouse. Jail time is not out of the question.
One tool the courts often employ to force alimony payments is an income withholding order. This compels the non-paying ex-spouse’s employer to take the alimony payment out of their paycheck and pay it directly to the receiving ex-spouse.
The courts could use a writ of execution to award the receiving spouse funds from the non-paying ex-spouse’s bank account or other holdings.
If the amount of back payments builds up, the court may issue a judgment for the entire amount to be paid. Interest may be tacked on as well as any court costs incurred in fighting for the payments.
Bel Air Alimony Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC Counsel Divorcing Clients on Spousal Support
Whether you are paying or receiving alimony, having an experienced law team on your side can help you get a fair deal. The Bel Air alimony lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC assist clients throughout their divorce process, providing counsel on spousal support, child support, child custody and property issues. Complete an online contact form or call 443-589-0150 to set up a free consultation.
Our offices are located in Hunt Valley and Towson, Maryland. We represent clients in Baltimore, Baltimore County, Bel Air, Columbia, Freeland, Hampton, Westminster, Essex, Monkton, Sparks, Glencoe, Parkton, Phoenix, Pikesville, White Hall, Carroll County, Harford County, and Howard County.