What If I Can’t Afford to Pay Alimony in New York?

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Generally, alimony is one of the most contested parts of a divorce. It’s important to understand that not every former spouse will be entitled to receive alimony or spousal maintenance. Alimony is only awarded when a former spouse cannot meet their needs without financial assistance from their spouse, who can afford to pay it. If your former spouse has been awarded alimony, you may feel overwhelmed by this financial obligation. Understandably, numerous changes in one’s circumstances in the years following a divorce make it difficult to uphold their alimony obligation. If you can no longer afford to pay alimony, it’s in your best interest to contact a knowledgeable Suffolk County Alimony Attorney, who can help you request a modification to your alimony order to reflect your current financial circumstances. Please continue reading to learn what to do if you can’t afford to pay alimony in New York. 

What Are the Possible Consequences of Failing to Pay Alimony in New York?

When the court awards alimony, the order is legally enforceable. This means that non-compliance could result in serious legal consequences. The following include the possible consequences of nonpayment of alimony in New York:

  • Contempt of Court. If your former spouse reports your nonpayment to the court, the judge could issue a contempt charge. This could result in monetary fines, jail time, and the payment of your attorney’s fees and other sanctions.
  • Writ of Execution. The court can issue a Write of Execution, which allows your personal property to be seized and sold, and then the proceeds from the sale would be used to pay the past due alimony.
  • Suspension of licenses. Nonpayment can result in any state license being suspended, including your driver’s, hunting, and anything else you need the state’s permission for. These licenses can be held until you pay all of your alimony arrears.
  • Income withholding. If the court deems it appropriate, they can notify your employer to take the amount you owe your former spouse in alimony from your paycheck or social security check.

As you can see, harsh penalties exist for failing to uphold your alimony obligation. However, if you can no longer afford your alimony payments, you can file a petition to modify your alimony based on changed circumstances.

What Should I Do if I Can’t Afford My Alimony Payments?

As mentioned above, there can be many changes in one’s circumstances in the years following a divorce, some of which can warrant a modification to the existing alimony order. Filing a petition to modify your existing alimony order is essential if you can no longer afford to pay it. The court won’t cut off the accumulation of arrearages until the modification motion has been filed. If you’re supposed to be paying alimony, you shouldn’t stop making the payments if you run into financial problems. The first step you should take is to speak to your former spouse. If there’s a good reason for being late or missing payments, you might be able to work out an agreement. If you cannot reach an agreement, you must prove to the court that you’ve experienced a significant change in circumstances that has left you unable to fulfill your alimony obligation. They may reduce your alimony payments to reflect your current circumstances if they deem it fair.

If you can no longer afford to pay alimony, please don’t hesitate to contact a determined attorney from The Law Offices of Susan A. Kassel, P.C., who can help you explore your legal options.

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The Law Offices of Susan A. Kassel, P.C. proudly serves clients throughout Suffolk County, New York in their divorce, family law, and estate planning matters. If you require the services of an experienced Suffolk County attorney, schedule a consultation with The Law Offices of Susan A. Kassel, P.C. today.

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