Enforcing Your Alimony Award - Contempt
Going through a divorce is never easy, and receiving alimony can help alleviate some of the financial burden during this challenging time. However, when your ex-spouse fails to make the court-ordered payments, it can cause undue stress and frustration. If you're in this situation in Georgia, you may be wondering how to bring a contempt case to enforce your alimony award. It's important to note that this process can be complicated, but with the help of a knowledgeable attorney, you can navigate the legal system to obtain the support you need. By filing a motion for contempt, documenting all missed payments, and presenting evidence to the court that your ex is able to pay but is choosing not to, you can increase your chances of a successful outcome. Remember, you don't have to face this challenge alone. Reach out to a legal professional today to discuss your options and protect your well-being.
What is Contempt
In Georgia, contempt is a serious legal action taken against individuals who refuse to adhere to a court order. Specifically, when it comes to alimony, contempt occurs when the party who is ordered to make payments willfully refuses to do so even though they have the financial means to do it. It's important to note that while not paying alimony can cause financial difficulties for the receiving party, it is not enough to warrant a contempt charge. The refusal to make payments must be willful, with the payer having the financial ability to meet the court-ordered obligation. If the payor has suffered something like a health crisis or an involuntary loss of income, even though they are in contempt by not making payments, if they are willing to pay but unable, it will not be willful contempt, punishable by imprisonment or sanctions. If you are worried about being in contempt for non-payment due to the loss of a job or income, what is best is to go ahead and file for a modification of alimony, based on your change in circumstances. You may still have to pay what is owed in the meantime, but it will help the court see that you are serious about your court-ordered obligation and want to pay, in line with what you're able to pay. Georgia courts take willful non-payment of alimony seriously, and if found guilty, the receiving party may be awarded damages and attorney fees.
When to File for Contempt
Filing for contempt of non-payment of alimony can be a frustrating and stressful situation, but it's important to know when the time is right. If the other party is refusing to pay and is financially able to do so, it may be time to take action. If the other party has had something happen to them, like a health issue or the involuntary loss of a job or property, it may be best to talk to them and come to an agreement of how payments will be made moving forward. Remember - you are in charge of proving that the other party has the ability to pay and is willfully violating the court's alimony order by refusing to pay. To begin the process, you'll need to file a motion under the original action which resulted in alimony. Then, you need to provide notice of the motion to the other party - usually by mail with an acknowledgment of service form. Then, if they don't respond, you have to let the clerk of court know so they can set a court date and send out notice again to the other side, with the court date. Once that happens, you will have a hearing in front of the court, where you must show that the party's failure to pay is willful and in violation of the court's order. Remember, seeking legal advice is always recommended as it can help streamline the process and ensure you have the best possible outcome.
What Happens if Contempt is Found
In the state of Georgia, it is important for individuals to fulfill their legal obligations, especially in regards to alimony payments. When they do not, the other side can take them to court in a contempt motion. If the paying party is found to be in willful contempt for non-payment of alimony - meaning they are financial and physically able to make payments but are refusing to do so with no good defense or reason - then the court can order them to make the payments immediately or else face imprisonment. However, the court also provides options for individuals who are unable to make these payments and sentenced to jail. In these cases, the paying party may be placed in a diversion program at the county jail (where applicable), which allows for them to work to pay off their alimony and catch up on missed payments. It is important for all parties involved to communicate and work towards a solution that is beneficial for everyone.
Attorney's Fees and Court Costs
In an alimony contempt case, it's up to the court to decide whether or not to award attorney's fees and costs of litigation to the person who emerged victorious. This decision is based on several factors, including the financial circumstances of both parties involved. As the court takes into account the financial position of both parties, it's important to work with an experienced attorney who can help you present your case in the best possible light. While it's never ideal to be involved in a legal battle, having an attorney by your side can significantly increase your chances of reaching a favorable outcome.
How We Can Help
At Your Law Firm, we understand that enforcing an alimony award can be a complex and intimidating process for many individuals. That's why we're here to help. Our team of experienced attorneys can provide you with the guidance and support you need to navigate the contempt process, step by step. And if you're facing contempt actions, we're also here to help you defend against this action and protect your rights. At Your Law Firm, we're committed to providing our clients with personalized, professional, and friendly legal services to help them achieve the best possible outcomes in their cases. So why wait? Contact us today to see how we can help you enforce your alimony award and protect your interests.