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What are the enforcement methods for unpaid alimony?

Divorced people in Michigan are often dependent on the spousal support they receive from a former spouse -- even if it is only until he or she has established a regular income. However, payments may be withheld, leaving the question of possible enforcement. That depends on whether the court ordered alimony to be paid, and whether it is malicious withholding or the inability to pay due to job loss or other changed circumstances.

If court-ordered alimony payments are not paid, the would-be recipients may file a Complaint for Contempt petition with the court. However, such complaints are limited to cases in which the payors can afford to pay but neglect to do so, and an accused person will have the opportunity to defend him or herself. To enforce payment, the court may order the alimony to be automatically withdrawn from the person's bank account, or his or her wages may be garnished to cover alimony payments. Under certain circumstances, the court may even order jail time for an ex who refuses to pay spousal support.

Some people choose to secure the services of private support collection agencies to collect alimony in arrears. These agencies do not charge a fee in advance but typically retain a percentage of the money they collect. However, when choosing this route, people are advised to research and investigate the company to learn about its business practices before securing its services.

This can be an emotional and challenging process, and for that reason, many Michigan people choose to utilize the skills of an experienced divorce attorney to provide the necessary support and guidance. A lawyer can assess the circumstances and investigate the financial situation of the person who is not complying with alimony payment orders. That information can then be used to devise the most appropriate strategy for collection of arrears and ensuring future compliance with spousal support orders.

Source:, "Enforce Alimony", Jodee Redmond, Accessed on Dec. 22, 2017

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