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What Happens if You Don’t Pay Alimony in Florida?

Alimony, also known as spousal support, is an incredibly common part of divorces in Florida. Alimony is often necessary in a divorce given that most couples make sacrifices in their marriage, such as by giving up a job to raise children or support the other spouse’s career. Like most states, Florida recognizes that there are circumstances under which one spouse’s sacrifices or life circumstances are such that they are entitled to compensation from the other spouse to help them get to a point where they can become self-sufficient. These circumstances can include:

  • Financial need
  • The assets of both spouses
  • The receiving spouse’s standard of living
  • The length of the marriage
  • The age of the receiving spouse
  • The physical and/or emotional condition of a receiving spouse
  • Whether adultery, abuse, or other deceit/trauma occurred within the marriage

Determining alimony amounts can be one of the most contentious issues in a divorce. When you finalize a divorce, you do not want to have to think about their former spouse, let alone pay money to them for a number of years. However, when ordered to do so by the court, you must follow what the court tells you to. Otherwise, the consequences can be severe. Consequences can include:

  • Wage garnishment – this is when a judge issues a court order declaring that a portion of your wages is automatically reserved for your alimony payments prior to you receiving the portion you are owed.
  • Property liens – this is when a court places a lien on your property, which prohibits it being sold until your alimony has been paid in full.
  • Property seizure – this is when a court orders that any of your assets of value can be seized in order to cover the cost of paying your alimony. This includes physical property, bank accounts balances, rental income, royalties, and dividends.
  • Tax refund designation – this is when a court declares that your income tax refund must be used to pay your unpaid alimony.
  • Contempt of court – this is when a judge recognizes that you are in contempt of the court’s order to pay alimony, and orders you to pay a fine, go to jail, or both. You could even be ordered to stay in jail until you pay what you owe.
  • Judgment and interest – this occurs when you owe a large amount of unpaid alimony and your former spouse files for a judgment against you. In these situations, if a judge finds for your former spouse, you are responsible for paying the full amount, plus interest accrued during the duration of your failure to pay, as well as your former spouse’s legal fees.

As the above scenarios demonstrate, failing to make your regular alimony payments can have severe consequences in Florida. At Blair H. Chan, III, PLLC, we know that failure to pay alimony does not always occur for malicious reasons. Difficult life circumstances like a lost job, pay cut, and medical issues are legitimate reasons that negatively impact your ability to pay alimony. Regardless of the reasons, if you need help making changes to your alimony agreement, the experienced family law attorneys at Blair H. Chan, III, PLLC, can help you assess your options! Contact us today to learn more.

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