If your ex-spouse has lost their job or is suffering from an illness or injury, you may want to consider agreeing to a modification or suspending spousal support until your spouse is able to return to work. However, if your spouse is simply trying to avoid paying spousal support, you will need to take them back to court where a judge can take one of several action; find your ex-spouse in contempt, order that part of the ex-spouse’s income be withheld; or, order a judgment with interest.
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Contempt is the disobedience of a court order. The judge must find that your ex-spouse was intentionally attempting to avoid paying spouse support. This can be found if the ex-spouse is receiving income that is not being reported to taxing authorities; hiding assets purchased with cash which prove a substantial income; transferring property to others which were paid for by the ex-spouse; or, creating questionable loans to others. If the judge finds your ex in contempt, the first punishment will most likely be an order to pay the overdue support and possibly an additional fine. Should your ex-spouse continue to disregard the court orders, they could be ordered to serve time in jail.
Many spousal support orders include an income withholding order, which requires your ex-spouse’s employer to withhold spousal support from your ex-spouse’s paycheck and send it directly to you or a California agency (if you are receiving state benefits). You will continue to receive spousal support as long as your spouse remains employed. Unfortunately, income withholding orders won’t work if your ex-spouse is self-employed. However, you can request the court to order your ex-spouse to set up a trust account for you should you not receive your spousal support payments on time.
If your spouse is willfully unemployed, you can ask for a seek-work order and request the court to impute income on your ex-spouse based on their earning capacity.
Writ of Execution
A court can award you a portion of your ex-spouse’s bank accounts, CDs, and other assets for their failure to pay spousal support.
Judgment and Interest
If your ex-spouse has failed to pay you spousal support and the amount is now substantial, you can ask the court to issue a money judgment against your ex-spouse for the total amount owed, along with interest. This judgment can then be used to levy on any property or account held by your ex-spouse.
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