What happens if my ex-spouse defaults on alimony payments? | Smith Debnam Narron Drake Saintsing & Myers, LLP

Alimony, also known as spousal support, is a court-ordered payment made by one spouse to the other following a divorce or separation. In North Carolina, a dependent spouse (ie, a spouse who is financially dependent on the other) may be awarded alimony in a divorce or separation. It may be granted as a lump sum, as a periodic payment, as an income withholding, or as a title or transfer of ownership of personal property or interest therein, or a security interest in or possession of real property. Several factors determine the amount and duration of alimony payments, including each spouse’s income and earning potential, the length of the marriage, and the standard of living established during the marriage. Alimony in North Carolina can be temporary or permanent. It may be modified or terminated under certain circumstances, e.g. B. when the receiving spouse remarries or lives with someone with whom they have an intimate relationship. Note that cohabitation requires the two people to live together constantly and habitually, which applies to both heterosexual and homosexual relationships.

By law in North Carolina, alimony ends upon the death of one of the parties. Alimony payments may be ordered by the court (i.e. court order) or in a private contract between the parties (i.e. separation agreement).

What happens if my ex-spouse defaults on alimony and I have a court order?

If you have a court order for alimony and your spouse is not paying alimony and is in default, you have the right to apply for enforcement of the alimony. NC Gen.Stat. Section 50-16.7(j) provides that a subpoena is enforceable for civil breach and that its disobedience is punishable by criminal breach.

The consequences for the non-paying spouse can be severe, and in extreme cases include garnishment of wages, liens on property and even imprisonment.

Disregard is probably the most commonly used means of enforcement. If your ex-spouse is disrespected, the penalties, depending on whether it is civil or criminal, can include a fine, censure, imprisonment, and in some cases, an award of attorneys’ fees. NC Gen. Stat. § 50-16.7(d)-(k) lists remedies other than contempt for enforcing a maintenance order. Please note that some of these remedies are preemptive, meaning they cannot be used after a maintenance order has been entered.

Remedies available at the time of entering a support order or after entering a support order are as follows:

  1. Require the sponsoring spouse to sign a mortgage, deed of trust, or security interest relating to real estate or personal property of the sponsoring spouse. This is to be secured Future payment of alimony. If the dependent spouse fails to do so, the court may order the title to be transferred or direct another person to sign the documents required for the title to be transferred.
  2. Order of the dependent spouse to secure the payment of maintenance by assignment of wages, salary or other income.
  3. Arrange the transfer of property to settle a arrears.
  4. Remedies of seizure and seizure pursuant to Article 35 of Chapter 1 and Article 9 of Chapter 110 of the General Statutes. The dependent spouse is deemed to be the creditor of the dependent spouse.
  5. Receivers may be appointed under Article 38 of Chapter 1 of the General Statutes to take possession of the property or income of a dependent spouse where this is necessary to enforce a court-ordered maintenance obligation.
  6. The dependent spouse is a creditor within the meaning of Article 3A of Chapter 39 of the General Statutes in relation to voidable transactions;
  7. Overdue periodic payments can be reduced to a judgment, which then, like other judgments, is a lien; And
  8. Appeals of enforcement (NC Gen. Stat. § 1-302 et seq.), foreclosure sales (NC Gen. Stat. § 1-339.41 et seq.), and supplementary proceedings (NC Gen. Stat. § 1-352 et seq.) stand for enforcement of maintenance judgments available.

What if my ex-spouse and I have alimony under a private contract and my ex-spouse defaults on alimony?

Suppose the alimony is set out in a private contract (not included in the court order) and the supporting spouse stops paying the alimony. In this case, the dependent spouse can bring an action for breach of contract and special benefits. A dependent spouse may sue for breach of contract and claim damages. A party may also require performance of the contract if the remedy is not sufficient. Specific performance means that the court orders a party to do what it was originally contractually required to do. However, the dependent spouse would have to show that the supporting spouse could fulfill the contract (ie was able to pay alimony but chose not to).

In summary, if an ex-spouse defaults on alimony payments, the consequences for the non-paying spouse can be severe and, in extreme cases, can include forfeited wages, liens on property, and even imprisonment. Therefore, both parties must understand their legal rights and obligations regarding child support payments in order to avoid future financial and legal problems.

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