Alimony is an important factor in many Detroit-area divorces. Once your divorce is finalized, and you have an order for alimony, you are likely to feel very relieved, happy that the process is over, and ready to move on with your life.
You count on your alimony payments to allow you to pay your bills and provide you with financial security after your divorce. But what happens if your ex-spouse suddenly stops making payments or refuses to begin making them at all?
People do not always follow court orders
Unfortunately, just because there is a court order in place ordering alimony payments to you does not mean that your ex-spouse will follow it.
Circumstances may change, which makes it difficult or impossible for them to make the payments. If your divorce was an especially bitter one, your ex-spouse may simply refuse to make the alimony payments out of spite, or because they do not feel you deserve it.
Luckily, under Michigan law, you have many options available to you if you do not receive your ordered alimony payments. Enforcing these options can take time, so you may have to wait to receive your owed payments. Although it is not always possible, try to have a backup plan in place in case it takes a while for you to receive your owed payments.
File a contempt petition
The first step to collecting owed alimony is filing a petition for contempt with the same court that issued your divorce decree. You must provide proof of any payments that you did not receive and the total amount of back payments, or arrears, that are owed to you.
Once this is done, the court can make an official order finding your ex-spouse in contempt of court. This essentially means they verified that your ex-spouse has not paid alimony.
The court can garnish your ex-spouse’s wages or tax returns to collect the payments. Prior to making an order, they can also order both of you to attend mediation to help you reach an agreement on how the support will be paid.
Proving that your ex-spouse owes you alimony, how much and taking the right steps to collect the money can be challenging. Having an experienced family law attorney can help.