Did your divorce order require your ex-spouse to make alimony payments to you? Have they fallen short of honoring their spousal-support obligation? Have their payments been only partial or are they not showing up at all? Even if payments have resumed, do you have a previously unpaid amount still outstanding?
Regaining your financial independence
Alimony becomes part of a divorce decree either though the judge’s approval of a negotiated settlement agreement between the parties or, if the issue of spousal support is contested, as part of the court’s decision that alimony is proper under Florida law considering the family situation.
Changed circumstances can support spousal-support modification
Your ex-spouse may claim they are going through a challenging time that is impacting their ability to pay. For example, they may assert illness, disability, loss of employment, unsuccessful investment, incarceration or out-of-control debt. An alimony obligor, however, may not unilaterally stop or reduce payments in violation of the spousal-support order.
A court order for alimony remains valid and enforceable despite the payor’s situation. For it to change, a party must ask the court to revise the award based on changed circumstances. The paying party will try to show that their circumstances have changed in a way that justifies reducing the obligation.
The recipient spouse can submit contrary proof to try to keep the status quo without any reduction in the payment amounts. Any order modifying the alimony arrangement cannot forgive already past-due payments, which will still be due and owing.
Do not see red or feel blue – the law is black and white
A variety of legal remedies may be available to a recipient spouse seeking to recover missed alimony payments, depending on the circumstances. You might attempt to negotiate an acceptable repayment plan with your ex. If that is not an option or fails, you may be able to enforce the alimony order in court seeking a judgement for the late money plus legal fees, interest on the past due amount and court costs.
If necessary, your lawyer can explore possibilities for collecting on the judgment. Options may include garnishment of wages, preservation or seizure of your ex’s property and others. Another approach might be to ask the court to find the payor in contempt of court, subject to sanctions until the delinquency is satisfied.