Alimony, which is interchangeably referred to as spousal support, consists of payments made from one spouse to another. The purpose is to support and maintain a spouse during the post-separation period or following the divorce decree. Parties can agree to alimony payments, or courts can award alimony based on many factors; notably, marital misconduct among these factors. So unsurprisingly, alimony proceedings can be among the most contentious of all family law matters.
So what happens when there is an agreement or an order to pay alimony, but the supporting spouse is unable or unwilling to pay? Regardless of the reasons, if your spouse stops paying, you have legal rights.
The Powers of the Court
The North Carolina General Statutes Section 50-16.7 states that:
“The court may require the supporting spouse to secure the payment of alimony or postseparation support so ordered by means of a bond, mortgage, or deed of trust, or any other means ordinarily used to secure an obligation to pay money or transfer property, or by requiring the supporting spouse to execute an assignment of wages, salary, or other income due or to become due.”
Similar in concept to collateral, this statute gives the court the authority to secure alimony. This means that a court can order property, wages, or income as security in case the supporting spouse does not pay his or her obligation.
In addition, the court has the power to enforce any order for alimony or postseparation support. This is through a civil contempt proceeding in which the court may order the supporting spouse to pay any outstanding obligation or to surrender secured property. And if the supporting spouse disobeys this order, the court is authorized to hold the spouse in criminal contempt.
There are very serious and very real actions that the court can order, including:
- Ordering the arrest and bail of the non-compliant spouse.
- Ordering attachment and garnishment of the non-compliant spouse’s wages or income withholding.
- Ordering injunctive relief.
- Giving the receiving spouse the rights and powers of a creditor against the other spouse.
- Expressly ordering a lien on the non-compliant spouse’s real property.
New Direction Family Law
Failure to comply with court orders can have very serious consequences. Contact New Direction Family Law if your former spouse has stopped paying court ordered alimony or postseparation support. Our attorneys offer smart, professional legal representation and take pride in helping clients move forward. We serve Wake, Johnston, Lee, Harnett, Cumberland, Nash, Granville, Franklin, and Durham counties. Call New Direction Family Law at (919) 719-3470 to schedule a consultation, or visit our website.