Enforcing a Florida Alimony Order
There are many reasons why former spouses fall behind on alimony payments. The loss of a job or medical issues can be honest reasons why payments may fall behind; however, some former spouses simply get tired of making payments or purposefully quit a job in order to avoid sending alimony to the other former spouse. Thankfully, the Florida courts provide legal recourse for a person who is supposed to be receiving alimony payments, but whose former spouse is refusing to pay.
When a paying spouse refuses to pay alimony, they are violating a direct court order issued by a judge. Florida family courts retain a considerable amount of discretion to determine what kinds of punishments and enforcement methods can be imposed on a delinquent spouse.
Alimony is considered a court order, and failure to obey an alimony order is considered contempt of court. If the paying spouse has the ability to pay and willfully chooses not to, the judge will decide on the appropriate contempt punishment. This can include time in jail, a fine, or both. In addition, if the paying spouse fails multiple times to pay alimony, separate actions for contempt for each missed payment can be made.
A money judgment against the paying spouse is fairly straightforward. The court will award a money judgment to the spouse that is supposed to be receiving alimony. That judgment can then be enforced with any typical collection method allowed under Florida law.
Another option for enforcing alimony payments is to get a judgment lien against the paying spouse. The judgment can include the unpaid alimony, interest, and potentially even attorneys’ fees. Upon receiving the judgment, the unpaid spouse can pursue a writ of execution or a writ of garnishment.
Writ of Execution
Under a writ of execution, personal property of the paying spouse is seized and then sold by the County Sheriff’s Office. Any money gained in the sale of the property is given to the unpaid spouse as payment. For a writ of execution, “property” can mean real property like land and buildings, or personal property such as automobiles, boats, jewelry or livestock. However, one large exemption to a writ of execution is the paying spouse’s home.
Writ of Garnishment
A writ of garnishment can be used with a judgment lien to take unpaid alimony payments out of the paying spouse’s paychecks or earnings. This is one of the most common forms of enforcement in Florida, especially if the paying spouse does not possess significant assets to seize using a writ of execution. A Florida family court judge can also order that the writ of garnishment be “continuing” to enforce periodic payment of alimony to the receiving spouse.
Call a Florida Family Law Attorney Today
Being cut off from your rightful alimony payments can place you in dire financial straits. If you or someone that you know is no longer receiving their alimony payments or has other family law questions in Orlando or the surrounding area, let Steve W. Marsee, P.A. help. Call or contact the office today for help with your case.