As previous posts on this blog have discussed, New Jersey law allows spouses who are separating to seek an award of alimony from the other spouse.
These payments are often very important to the livelihood of the person receiving them. Among other things, alimony can be a court’s way of balancing out inequalities with respect to who is getting what property or with respect to what each spouse earns.
Courts also use alimony to make sure that a spouse who may have sacrificed a lucrative career or key job training for her family can support herself once she has to maintain a separate household, at least until she can get back on her feet financially.
Therefore, if a spouse simply does not pay alimony as ordered or agreed, then she leaves the other person facing a real economic hardship and, not to mention, a significant injustice. This may mean the other spouse has every right to, and may even need to, evaluate legal options for collecting alimony.
Courts in New Jersey have the authority to take several significant measures, even deploying more than one at the same time, in order to enforce alimony awards. For instance, the court can do what is called reducing the delinquent alimony payments to a judgment, meaning the other spouse gets a decent interest rate on the amount owed and can take steps to collect the debt that may include seizing property, freezing bank accounts or even selling her spouse’s home.
As in the case of child support, a court can also put someone who fails to pay alimony in jail or order fines or community service. The court may but need not respect the fact that someone who isn’t paying alimony is employed. It may also be possible for the court to suspend a person’s professional license.
There are many ways to enforce an alimony award when one’s spouse does not comply with it. The exact way to go about alimony enforcement is a question best discussed with an experienced family law attorney.