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How can I make sure I receive my spousal support payments?

Whether you are ready to begin divorce proceedings or just considering it, you are undoubtedly at least a little worried about the financial repercussions. When children are involved, you can usually expect child support, but what if you have been focusing your efforts on supporting your husband's career for years? You may have given up your potential career to concentrate your time and labor on the family and home, and now find yourself unemployable, except for low-paying entry level positions.

It is for this reason that the legal system instituted spousal support. In oversimplified terms, spousal support, also known as alimony, is payments that a court orders one former spouse to make to another after divorce. The intent is to provide financial support for whichever spouse supported the other in non-financial and intangible ways throughout the marriage.

How are alimony payments made?

Spousal support payments generally take one of three forms:

  • Regular ongoing payments with no end date (permanent alimony)
  • Temporary payments (rehabilitative alimony) made for an established length of time
  • One lump sum

How can I make sure that I receive my alimony payments?

The potential problem arises when, regardless of what the court ordered during the divorce proceedings, your ex-spouse decides he or she is not going to make the agreed upon spousal support payments. Whether this is due to lingering negative feelings over the split, an unexpected financial rough patch, or even a new spouse's influence, the end result is the same: you suddenly are not receiving the money you were counting on to make ends meet.

There are, however, a few things you can do to help prevent yourself from landing in this untenable position. A few methods for helping to make sure you receive your support payments are:

  • Secure payments via a lien on your spouse's assets
  • Use disability insurance
  • Have support payments automatically deducted from your ex's paychecks

Secure payments via a lien on your spouse's assets

A "lien" is the legal right to another's property until the owner fulfills certain obligations to the lien holder. You can request that the court allow you to take an asset with a lien on it as payment for spousal support when your ex fails to pay. Potential drawbacks include when the lien is on a house and you might not receive the money until your ex sells it, or if the lien is on his retirement account, you may not be able to collect until he retires, is fired or quits.

Use disability insurance

You can use disability insurance to make sure you continue to receive your alimony payments even if your ex is unable to work due to illness or injury. Courts may allow your former husband to make lower payments during periods of disability, so the insurance may help provide a safeguard in such a case.

Have support payments automatically deducted from your ex's paychecks

A great way to help avoid this issue in the first place is to have your spouse arrange for automatic deduction of alimony payments from his paychecks. The court can issue an order to the employer with instructions to deduct a specified amount from the paycheck and send it to them, and the court then sends it to you. This way, there isn't even an opportunity for your spouse to forget to send the payment or decide to send only part of the money, or none at all.

What other steps can I take?

A Florida divorce attorney can offer assistance in both filing your spousal support agreement with the court and also in arguing its legitimacy and reasonableness with the judge to get it approved. This way, it will be an official part of the divorce, and, if your ex-spouse fails to live-up to his or her end of the agreement, you may be able to petition the court to hold him or her in contempt.

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