When you are ordered to pay alimony in a Florida divorce, the consequences for not paying are stricter than you might think.
A court examines various factors when determining an appropriate amount of alimony one spouse pays another. While you might not enjoy paying money to your ex-spouse, it is a court obligation that you must comply with.
But what if something happens that prevents you from making your alimony payments? You should not just stop paying them because your ex-spouse can then file a petition asking the court to enforce the alimony order.
Potential penalties for not paying alimony
There are many ways a court can recoup the alimony payments you owe, including garnishing your wages or seizing your bank accounts or tax refunds. A court can also place a lien on your home or any other real estate that you own.
Your ex-spouse can also request that you be held in contempt of court. This could mean more serious consequences such as fines or even jail time. It should be clear that if you can no longer afford your alimony payments, simply not paying them is not the answer.
What you can do when alimony becomes unaffordable
The best way to handle an unexpected situation that prevents you from making your alimony payments on time, or at all, is to file a petition to modify the amount with the court.
Alimony payments can be modified if your circumstances change, and you are unable to pay the ordered amount. Your ex-spouse can always agree to the lower amount, but if they do not, a hearing on your petition is held.
You should be prepared to present evidence proving that you can no longer make the payments. This is generally proof of your income and expenses.
For example, if you lose your job, bring any documents showing you are no longer employed. If your expenses have gone up, bring recent bills or statements justifying the increase in expenses.
Be proactive and take the right steps
Filing a petition to modify alimony can be time-consuming, but it is worth the expense and time it saves if you are found in contempt by a Florida court.