What Happens if You Don’t Pay Spousal Support

What Happens if You Don’t Pay Spousal Support

Spousal support, also known as alimony, is a court-ordered payment made by one spouse to the other after a divorce or separation. It is intended to provide financial support to the lower-earning spouse, ensuring some level of financial stability during and after the dissolution of the marriage. However, what happens if you don’t pay spousal support? Let’s delve into the possible consequences.

1. Legal Consequences: Failure to pay spousal support can result in legal consequences. The court can hold you in contempt, leading to fines or even imprisonment in extreme cases.

2. Warrant for Arrest: If you continuously fail to pay spousal support, the court may issue a warrant for your arrest. This can have severe consequences for your personal and professional life.

3. Wage Garnishment: The court can order wage garnishment, where a portion of your wages is automatically deducted and paid towards spousal support. This ensures consistent payments and reduces the risk of non-payment.

4. Property Liens: The court may place a lien on your property, such as your house or car, to enforce spousal support payments. If you fail to pay, the property may be sold to fulfill the outstanding amount.

5. Seizure of Assets: The court can seize your assets, such as bank accounts or investments, to satisfy spousal support obligations. This can cause significant financial hardship and disrupt your financial stability.

6. Suspension of Driver’s License: Some states may suspend your driver’s license if you fail to pay spousal support. This can make it challenging to commute to work or perform daily tasks.

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7. Negative Credit Impact: Non-payment of spousal support can negatively impact your credit score. This can hinder your ability to secure loans, mortgages, or other forms of credit in the future.

8. Interest and Penalties: Unpaid spousal support can accrue interest and penalties, increasing the overall amount owed. This can make it even more challenging to catch up on payments.

9. Modification of Support Order: If you consistently fail to pay spousal support, your ex-spouse may petition the court for a modification of the support order. This could lead to an increase in the amount you owe or other changes to the terms.

10. Damage to Reputation: Failure to meet your obligations can damage your reputation, particularly if your non-payment becomes public knowledge. This can affect personal and professional relationships.

11. Legal Fees: If your ex-spouse takes legal action to enforce spousal support payments, you may be required to bear their legal fees. This adds to the financial burden and can further complicate the situation.


1. Can I avoid paying spousal support?
No, spousal support is a legal obligation, and failure to pay can lead to severe consequences.

2. What if I can’t afford to pay spousal support?
If you are facing financial hardship, you can request a modification of the support order based on your changed circumstances.

3. Can I go to jail for not paying spousal support?
In extreme cases, repeated non-payment and refusal to comply with court orders can result in imprisonment.

4. Can spousal support be discharged in bankruptcy?
In most cases, spousal support obligations cannot be discharged in bankruptcy proceedings.

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5. What if my ex-spouse remarries or starts earning more?
Remarriage or an increase in the recipient’s income does not automatically terminate spousal support. You may need to petition the court for a modification.

6. Can I negotiate a lower spousal support payment?
You can negotiate a lower payment amount with your ex-spouse or seek legal assistance to modify the support order.

7. How long do I have to pay spousal support?
The duration of spousal support depends on various factors, including the length of the marriage and the court’s discretion.

8. What if I lose my job and can’t afford payments?
Losing your job can be considered a change in circumstances, and you can request a modification of the support order.

9. Can spousal support be tax-deductible?
Spousal support payments made under court orders can be tax-deductible for the paying spouse and taxable income for the recipient.

10. Can I challenge the spousal support order?
You can challenge the spousal support order by filing a motion in court, providing evidence of changed circumstances or other grounds for modification.

11. Can I make lump-sum spousal support payments instead of monthly payments?
In some cases, lump-sum payments can be agreed upon instead of monthly installments, but this depends on the court’s approval and the agreement of both parties involved.

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