There are a number of reasons why someone would fall behind on their
spousal support payments. They could have lost their job. Their hours could have been
cut. They could have gotten into an accident or fallen ill. They can be
diagnosed with a debilitating disease like MS or cancer. Or, out of spite
they may refuse to pay their spousal payments just to “stick it
to their ex.”
Has your former spouse failed to pay his or her court-ordered spousal support
payments? If so, do you know why? For example, did they lose their job
or are they having a medical problem? Or do you believe that they’re
just tired of paying you spousal support?
If you truly believe your ex has good intentions but something’s
happened to make them incapable of paying their payments, you may want
to work out an agreement that reduces or suspends their support until
they get back to work. However, if the payments don’t restart, be
prepared to head back to court.
To fully protect yourself if you want to give your ex the benefit of the
doubt and negotiate a temporary arrangement, we recommend drafting an
agreement with the help of one of our attorneys – a verbal agreement
is not advised.
What if My Ex Refuses to Pay?
Perhaps unemployment isn’t the issue but your ex is simply refusing
to pay you. They don’t want to and they’re not going to make
it easy for you. If you’re in this situation, it’s time to
go back to court but we assure you it’s a lot simpler than getting
We’ll need to file a motion with the court asking the judge to order
your ex to come current and to stay current with their future monthly
payments. This legal paperwork is what courts refer to as a
Motion for Enforcement or Contempt.
When the obligor fails to pay their court-ordered spousal support, they
are violating a court order and judges don’t take kindly to people
who refuse to comply with their orders. The family courts have a lot of
discretion when it comes to enforcing a spousal support order in terms
of the methods they will use to convince a delinquent spouse to pay, including:
- Jail (for contempt of court – this is a last resort)
- Driver license suspensions
- Seizing bank accounts
- License suspensions (e.g. professional, occupational, and business)
- Wage garnishment
- Tax refund intercept
- Lottery winning intercept
- Judgements and interest
Note: Delinquent spousal support cannot be included in Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcies.
So, if an obligor owes it, there’s no way of getting around it.
They have to pay up eventually.
If your ex owes you a lot of money, you should
contact our San Diego divorce firm to help you take legal action to enforce the court-ordered spousal support.
It’s not a DIY issue, and once you receive a judgement, we can help
you collect your money.
What If I Don’t Pay My Spousal Support Payments?