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In today’s economic climate, many people face financial difficulties that hinder their ability to sustain themselves and their families. This can be even more challenging for those required to provide financial assistance to their spouse through alimony. Alimony is often one of the most contentious issues of any divorce. Even if you are comfortable paying it, your financial situation may shift, and you may be unable to fulfill the court-ordered payments. Please continue reading to learn the potential penalties for failing to uphold an alimony obligation in New Jersey and how our experienced Monmouth County Spousal Support Attorneys can help you navigate your legal options.

What is Alimony?

Firstly, it’s crucial to understand that alimony is not automatically granted. However, a spouse can be ordered to pay the other spouse alimony or spousal support if the judge finds that they were financially dependent on their spouse during the marriage. Essentially, it is money one spouse must pay to another to ensure the divorce does not cause an extreme decline in the quality of living for a lower-earning spouse, especially if the couple has been married for a long time. There is a single financial disparity between the parties.

When alimony is ordered by the court or included in a negotiated divorce settlement, the paying spouse must make regular payments to the recipient spouse of a predetermined amount on a pre-arranged schedule. Once alimony is ordered, it must be paid. Failure to make payments can result in serious legal ramifications.

What Are the Consequences of Not Paying Alimony in New Jersey?

Like any other court order, alimony must be paid once ordered. Failure to make payments on time and in full can result in serious legal consequences. If you fail to uphold your alimony obligation, the court can impose the following penalties:

  • Contempt of court. If your former spouse reports your nonpayment to the court, the judge will bring you back to court to explain the reasoning behind the non-compliance. If you cannot provide a legitimate reason for nonpayment, it can result in a contempt charge. The judge can impose monetary fines and even possible jail time.
  • Wage garnishment. The court can order your employer to take a portion of your income and directly allocate it to the recipient’s spouse. They can also intercept tax refunds.
  • Writ of Execution. The court can seize assets or place liens on your personal property. They can then sell the seized property, and the proceeds generated from the sale would be allocated to the recipient’s spouse to pay the overdue alimony.

You will face serious consequences if you’ve consistently neglected your alimony obligation. However, before you stop paying, you should petition the court to modify the existing alimony order due to significant changes in your financial circumstances. Essentially, if you can prove that you have experienced a substantial change in your financial circumstances, it may result in a reduced or terminated alimony order.

At Paone Zaleski & Murphy, we understand the financial hardship that alimony can cause. If you can no longer afford to pay court-ordered alimony payments, please don’t hesitate to contact a determined Monmouth County spousal support attorney who can help you protect your rights and interests.