You make it through the difficult divorce proceedings and the Judge awards you with alimony. However, soon after you realize your ex-spouse is not paying alimony. What are you to do? Under North Carolina law, either party to a divorce action may file a Complaint and ask for alimony. The Court has the power to award alimony after looking through the finances of both spouses; determining one spouse a “dependent spouse” and determining that the other spouse is a “supporting spouse.” With its award of alimony, the court has the discretion to determine a specific amount, duration, and the manner in which alimony is to be paid utilizing several factors as allowed by North Carolina law.  

North Carolina law describes the ways in which alimony shall be paid by the “supporting spouse” to the “dependent spouse”. The Court has the discretion to order alimony to be paid by lump sum payment (one single payment to the “dependent spouse”), periodic payments (multiple payments over time to the “dependent spouse”), income withholding (“supporting spouse’s” income from employment is withheld per paycheck and is given to the “dependent spouse”), or by a transfer of title or possession of either personal property (example: tangible items) or real property (example: real estate).  

As a Court Order, the payment of alimony is enforceable by proceedings for civil contempt. Civil contempt is a term that is applied to compel the obedience to court orders such as alimony.

Disobedience, or a refusal to pay alimony, is punishable by proceedings for criminal contempt. Criminal contempt involves a criminal charge that is utilized by the court to punish and deter behavior that interferes with orders provided by the court.  
If your ex-spouse refuses to pay alimony either you or your legal counsel needs to notify the court about the ex-spouse’s failure to pay. The court will then utilize one of the above actions to enforce the court order provided by North Carolina Family Law.  

In conclusion, when trying to decide how to approach the court about your ex-spouse’s failure to pay alimony, you should speak with an experienced family law attorney to learn more about all your options, and to help determine the best action to take. Contact Hatcher Law Group for a consultation with an experienced family law attorney to understand your alimony rights and options moving forward.