What Happens If I Fail to Pay Alimony in Florida?

Husband giving child alimony

People pay alimony for various reasons. In the majority of cases, you pay alimony because you either agreed to pay an ex-spouse, and that agreement was approved by the Court, or the Florida Court ordered you to pay it. Either way, the Florida Court system was involved. This means that you have a legal obligation to pay alimony.

So, what happens if you don’t pay it? The consequences can be serious. In this article, we will explain the different types of alimony, how to modify alimony payments, and what happens if you fail to pay alimony in Florida.

What Happens If I Don’t Pay Alimony?

If you do not pay your alimony obligations, your ex-spouse may take steps to enforce the Court order that tells you that you must pay alimony. Some of the consequences include the following:

  • Wage garnishment
  • Being considered in contempt of Court, which can result in fines or jail time
  • Seizure of certain property, such as bank balances, rental income, dividends, or physical property
  • Having a lien placed on your home or other real estate property
  • Seizure of any income tax refunds due to you

Your ex-spouse can also request that a judgment be entered against you. When your ex-spouse does this, he or she is entitled to both the amount of back-owed alimony payments as well as any interest on any back-owed payments. In some cases, you may even have to pay your ex-spouse’s legal fees as well.

Which Types of Alimony Can Be Modified?

Alimony is a way for the courts to “even out” income discrepancies between spouses. The type of alimony that your spouse was awarded will have an effect on what action you can take to change your alimony obligations. In many circumstances, you cannot change these payments.

Lump-Sum Alimony

In some cases, the Court will order that one spouse pay the other a simple lump-sum, onetime payment for alimony. This type of payment cannot be modified.

Bridge-the-Gap Alimony

The State of Florida also allows for a temporary form of alimony that helps a newly-single spouse get accustomed to his or her single life, without the former spouse’s income. This type of alimony is temporary by design; it will not last more than two years. It also cannot be modified.

Rehabilitative Alimony

This type of alimony is specifically designed to help the person receiving the alimony to establish the ability to be self-sufficient. For example, a spouse may need to return to school or receive training to re-enter the workforce after being out of the workforce for a period of time. The Court will only approve this type of alimony with a specific rehabilitation plan in place. This type of alimony can be modified if the rehabilitation plan is violated, there has been a significant change in circumstances, or the rehabilitation plan has been completed.

Durational Alimony

Some alimony awards are simply based on a set period of time. The time period cannot be longer than the length of the marriage. This category can be modified as to the amount of the alimony, but the length of time cannot change.

Permanent Alimony

An award of permanent alimony is rare. It is only appropriate where one spouse is completely incapable of taking care of themselves, and their economic need will continue for the rest of their lives. Those who have permanent disabilities who cannot work are more likely to be awarded permanent alimony. This type of alimony cannot be modified.

How Do I Modify My Alimony Payments?

If you have a significant change in circumstances, you may be able to modify an alimony award if the award falls under one of the types that can be modified. This process involves filing a formal application with the Florida Court.

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