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Enforcement of Alimony Obligations

NJ Alimony Enforcement Attorneys

Legal support for your financial future

Alimony, also known as spousal support, exists to ensure that the financial burden of a divorce doesn’t fall overwhelmingly on one person. This means that if the supporting party stops making payments, the supported party may face unexpected financial hardship.

A family law attorney can assist in expediting the enforcement process—and work with you to help ensure payments resume as soon as possible.

At Jacobs Berger, LLC, our alimony enforcement lawyers have years of experience in guiding clients through the necessary steps, court motions, and paperwork to help stabilize their finances with the resumption of spousal support payments.

If the payments from your former spouse are late, partial, or stop altogether, contact us for a strategic planning session with one of our alimony attorneys.

Alimony Enforcement in New Jersey

In New Jersey, a number of factors are considered in determining alimony—including income, the length of the marriage, and the supported party’s educational and work history. A supported spouse’s ability to enjoy a lifestyle similar to that which existed during the marriage, despite what might be inequity in earning potential, is factored into most agreements.

Alimony is based on real financial need—and having it suddenly disappear can upend someone’s financial stability. Still, for reasons ranging from an inability to pay to a flat-out refusal, supporting parties sometimes fail to make payments.

If this happens to you, we highly recommend contacting an alimony enforcement attorney.

An attorney can help you file a motion to enforce litigant’s rights with the court, which is the first step in pursuing enforcement of alimony obligations through the court.

After filing, the court’s actions will vary according to your particular situation—but they may include remedies such as wage garnishment (withholding alimony payments from the supporting spouse’s paycheck) or holding a non-paying spouse in contempt of court. In the most extreme cases, the courts can even order seizure of property by the sheriff to pay for debts.

In order to initiate the alimony enforcement process, including by filing a motion, we highly recommend contacting one of the experienced lawyers at Jacobs Berger, LLC. We offer a solution-oriented approach to guiding you through the process to reclaim your financial stability.

Types of spousal support

In Morris County and the rest of New Jersey, there are several different kinds of alimony because the courts recognize that people’s situations and financial circumstances upon divorce can vary dramatically. However, unlike child support, the state doesn’t have a set formula for calculating alimony.

Limited duration alimony

Limited duration alimony is awarded for a set time. Typically, it’s paid for the amount of time that would reasonably be needed for the supported spouse to become self-supporting or have their need for support otherwise diminish.

This kind of alimony is commonly seen in short- to medium-duration marriages. It can be modified if either party experiences a significant change in circumstances.

Rehabilitative alimony

Rehabilitative alimony gives someone time to gain the education or training needed to return to work or work in a different capacity or field if that was a plan during the marriage.

The goal is to provide the party with the support needed to find a job and/or time to recapture the earning level they might have had if they didn’t leave the workforce to raise children or to compensate for other joint decisions made during the marriage which affected their ability to earn.

Reimbursement alimony

Reimbursement alimony is paid out over a set period of time to account for the fact that one party made economic sacrifices or used non-marital funds to support the other’s education or training.

Open durational alimony

Rehabilitative alimony gives someone time to gain the education or training needed to return to work or work in a different capacity or field if that was a plan during the marriage.

The goal is to provide the party with the support needed to find a job and/or time to recapture the earning level they might have had if they didn’t leave the workforce to raise children or to compensate for other joint decisions made during the marriage which affected their ability to earn.

Temporary alimony

Temporary alimony, also known as “pendente lite support,” is paid during the divorce process. It allows the supported party to meet their financial obligations while the divorce or dissolution of the civil union is ongoing.

Being able to count on financial stability after divorce is important to individuals and families with children. At Jacobs Berger, LLC, we understand that pursuing alimony enforcement can be deeply unpleasant—and necessary. Our attorneys stay current with the latest changes to alimony law and can help you pursue a stable financial future.

How to Enforce Court-Ordered Alimony

If the alimony payments you’re counting on are late, reduced, or absent, it may be time to take action—rather than allowing the missing payments to jeopardize your and your family’s financial security.

In many cases, the first step may be to contact your former spouse. In some situations, this can help clear up any honest misunderstandings before you begin working with an attorney.

It’s important to note that your former spouse is legally obligated to make court-ordered payments. If a problem arises where they’re no longer able to make the payments, it’s their responsibility to pursue a modification through the court—not let you find out the hard way when they simply stop paying.

If the missing spousal support payments can’t be fixed through a straightforward conversation with your former spouse, then we highly recommend working with an alimony enforcement attorney to guide you through the next steps of the process.

To start, you and your attorney will need to file a motion to enforce your legal right to receive alimony payments.

If the court grants your petition, your former spouse will have an opportunity to explain the situation and present facts about why full payments aren’t being made or payments are being missed. If there’s no cause for modification, your former spouse will likely be held in contempt. This means they must correct their actions. For example, they’ll typically be ordered to make up the missed support payments and may have other remedies imposed. In the most extreme cases, they may have to serve time in jail.

The skilled attorneys at our family law firm have worked with many clients in very different situations to successfully file motions with the court and reinstate alimony payments. We understand how to work with the highly individualized and fact-based nature of these matters.

Can a lawyer enforce non-court-ordered alimony in New Jersey?

In New Jersey, many alimony agreements are part of a Marital Settlement Agreement, which is an agreement made between divorcing parties—typically with the guidance of a mediator in a process known as Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). As such, Marital Settlement Agreements aren’t created through a ruling from a judge as part of a litigated divorce.

Although New Jersey Marital Settlement Agreements are typically reached by divorcing parties outside of the court system, they are considered formal court orders because they are incorporated within the parties’ judgment of divorce.

This means that your former spouse can be held in contempt of court for non-payment of spousal support, even if you didn’t go through a litigated divorce.

With the help of an experienced family law attorney, you can file a motion with the court for legal support in enforcing alimony payments.

Filing an alimony enforcement motion

Filing an alimony enforcement motion with the court (known as a “motion to enforce litigant’s rights”), initiates the legal process of alimony enforcement—and is recommended to be completed with the assistance of a family law attorney. Once the motion has been filed, the court will decide whether or not to grant your petition.

The motion allows you to ask the court to take certain actions, including:

  • Having the supporting party make up missed payments
  • Mandating, through techniques such as wage garnishment, that future payments be made in full and on time
  • Requiring the supporting party to cover your legal fees from trying to enforce payments
  • You may even ask the court to issue an arrest warrant, though this is less common

Once the court has granted the petition filed by your attorney, it can pursue a number of courses of action. One common approach is wage garnishment, in which alimony payments are withheld from your former spouse’s paycheck and deposited directly into your bank account.

In more extreme cases, the sheriff can seize property to sell to pay off debts, a process known as writ of execution. Individuals who default on alimony payments may also have to serve time in jail if the behavior is repetitive and payments are still not being made after enforcement motions.

The bottom line is that your former spouse is legally required to make their support payments and the court takes violations of this obligation seriously.

If you think you may need to file a motion with the court in order to get your former spouse to pay alimony, contact the alimony enforcement lawyers at Jacobs Berger.

We have years of experience to draw on in helping you navigate the process, including in deciding which remedies are most effective to pursue in the court motion of a particular case.

Contact Our Morris County Spousal Support Lawyers

At Jacobs Berger, LLC, we understand that seeking alimony enforcement from a former spouse is a challenging and stressful process. Our family law attorneys offer practical, skilled legal advice and representation.

If you find yourself needing to pursue alimony enforcement, we can guide you through the process. Drawing on our extensive knowledge and experience, we can help you maintain your and your family’s financial footing after a divorce.

We take a solution-oriented approach, and our goal is to help you move forward—with financial stability. Contact us today to schedule a strategic planning session.