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What Can You Do if Your Ex-Spouse Fails to Pay Spousal Support

You received a spousal support award to be paid your ex-spouse in a California divorce, but now your ex-spouse is refusing to pay, claiming to not have the money, or is consistently delayed in paying the award you are ordered. What do you do now? There are a couple actions you can take based on the terms of the spousal support order you originally received.

Was There an Earnings Assignment (Wage Garnishment)?

In every spousal support award, whether the award was the result of an agreement between the spouses or imposed by the courts, a California court has the right to issue what is called an “earnings assignment,” also referred to as wage garnishment.

With an earnings assignment, the court will issue an order to the paying spouse’s employer to have the support payments taken directly out of the spouse’s paycheck and sent by the employer to the payee spouse. Oftentimes, however, divorcing spouses will agree to forgo the earnings assignment (leaving the employer out of the mix) and have the paying spouse pay the receiving spouse directly. Thus, if you have been receiving payments from your ex-spouse’s employer, this indicates there was an earnings assignment, but if received from your ex-spouse directly, this indicates there was not one.

Where No Earnings Assignment Is in Place

If there was not an earnings assignment, you always have the right to go to court to ask that an earnings assignment be put in place, and this may be the best option if there has been consistently late or missing payments. Simply telling your ex-spouse that you are going to take this action may spur him or her to get on the ball in making sure you receive your payments on time, and you always have the right to seek an earnings assignment at a later time if this threat fails to do the trick. A court should approve the earnings assignment request and you would then serve it on your ex-spouse’s employer, and that employer should promptly begin paying you the award you were ordered, including back payments.

Where There is an Earnings Assignment in Place

If there is earnings assignment in place, and the employer is failing to make the payments on time, then you should contact the employer to make sure they understand their responsibilities under the law. If this fails, there are other strategies to undertake to enforce payment, including taking the employer to court. You also have the right to collect all payments that have been owed in the past but not paid. Working with an experienced California family law attorney can greatly increase your chances for expedited and full payment of all past and presently owed spousal support payments from an ex-spouse and/or the ex-spouse’s employer.

Work With a California Family Law Attorney

The family law attorneys at Kearney Baker in Pasadena are here to help with your California spousal support matters to make sure that you are treated fairly and get the outcomes you deserve. To schedule a consultation with one of our California family law attorneys, call Kearney Baker today at 626-768-2945.

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