3 FAQs About Failure to Pay Alimony in Michigan

Alimony, or spousal support, refers to a financial arrangement whereby one spouse makes regular payments to the other during and/or after divorce proceedings. The purpose of alimony is to ensure the lower earner can maintain a reasonable standard of living the wake of the separation.

When the arrangement is court-ordered, there are consequences for failing to abide by its terms. Whether you’re the one who is owed spousal support or you’re the one who will be paying it, here’s what you should know about failure to pay:

1. What Should You Do If Alimony Goes Unpaid?

If you’re the one responsible for paying alimony but you’re unable to meet the obligation, it’s advisable to act as soon as possible. Assuming your circumstances changed significantly, you can file a petition to modify the existing order.

If you’re the one who is supposed to receive the support payments but your ex-spouse has fallen behind, you can likely file a motion asking the judge the review the situation. Depending on the circumstances, the judge may order the other party to cover the amount in arrears as well as stay on top of all future payments.

2. How Do Michigan Courts Enforce Alimony Orders?

The court has a few ways to enforce alimony orders after a failure to pay is brought to their attention. Income withholding is one of the most common approaches. This is when the payer’s employer takes the spousal support directly out of his or her paycheck.

The court can also hold those who fail to pay in contempt. Being in contempt carries with it fines, various sanctions, and even jail time.

Finally, there are scenarios in which it’s possible have a Writ of Execution issued. This is an order that allows for the seizure of the party’s property. The property is then sold, and the proceeds are distributed to the recipient. A Writ of Execution can also allow for the seizure of funds from a bank account.

3. Do You Need to Hire an Attorney to Assist with Unpaid Alimony?

While it’s possible to ask the court to modify or enforce a spousal support order on your own, it’s generally advisable to seek legal counsel. This is especially true when time is of the essence, as a seasoned professional can help you avoid unnecessary delays.

Hiring a lawyer will also free you up to focus on more important matters while your alimony case proceeds in good hands. This will relieve a considerable amount of stress, so you can continue rebuilding your new life.

Speak with a Michigan Divorce Attorney

At Smith & Johnson, we’re well-versed in all aspects of divorce. From dividing hundreds of millions of dollars in assets to addressing family-owned businesses, we’re equipped to do it all. We also assist with custody and child support.

Should you be planning on filing for divorce or facing some kind of family law dispute, we can help. Call 231-946-0700 or submit the Contact Form on our website to schedule a free initial consultation with a divorce lawyer in Michigan.