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What Are the Illinois Laws for Spousal Maintenance if My Ex Refuses to Pay?

Posted on in Divorce

Wheaton divorce attorneysAfter a divorce, one spouse—usually the lower-earning spouse—may be entitled to financial support, which is commonly referred to as “alimony” or “spousal maintenance.” Illinois courts consider different factors to determine whether spousal support is warranted. If maintenance is found to be appropriate, the court typically uses a specific formula to determine the amount and the duration of the payments. In some cases, a spouse may refuse to pay or become delinquent on support payments, but there are laws governing this area of divorce.  

What If a Former Spouse Does Not Pay?  

When an ex-spouse does not make court-ordred maintenance payments, the former couple will likely have to go back to divorce or family court. The person not receiving payment must show the court evidence that his or her ex-spouse has not made any payments, has not made full payments, or has not made timely payments. Hard copy documentation of late or partial payments can be proof in explaining how this has caused financial difficulty. 

If the non-paying spouse continues to disregard the court’s order to pay, the judge may implement a charge of contempt of court against the former spouse, requiring him or her to go before another judge. A second judge may order the non-compliant spouse to pay the support to the ex-spouse in addition to court costs for the contempt case. If this second order is not obeyed, a person can face fines and jail time. 

If someone still does not pay, there are options. In general, the three ways to address the issue of refusal to pay are mediation, a lawsuit, and wage garnishment:

  1. Mediation involves both former spouses meeting with a mediator and negotiating an agreement. In divorce mediation, the couple works out their own support agreement based on what the paying spouse can afford and what the other spouse needs.
  2. A lawsuit in small claims court or higher court, against your ex-spouse, is the second option to collect the amount of debt owed to you. At a set court date, the defendant will be asked if he or she wants to go to trial. If so, the second court date will be the trial. Both sides can show evidence at this proceeding. Small claims court is for a debt that is under a certain amount. Higher court is required if the amount exceeds that limit. 
  3. Wage garnishment is the third option and involves different procedures. One process involves a person filing a civil action after winning a small claims or higher court lawsuit. Another option involves someone filing a claim directly with his or her ex-spouse’s employer for wage garnishment. If one of the former spouses is a federal employee, a legal order from a judge directs the government to automatically withhold money from the former spouse’s paycheck. The money will be sent directly to the ex-spouse. 

Contact an Oak Brook Family Law Attorney

A divorce can have a significant impact on one or both spouses financially. Alimony or spousal maintenance payments are not guaranteed. There are a number of factors the courts analyze before awarding this type of support. Even if spousal support is awarded, it is important to know your options if you do not receive payments on time or at all. The knowledgeable law firm of Anderson & Associates, P.C. can guide you through the legal process for receiving spousal maintenance. Call a tenacious DuPage County divorce lawyer today at 630-653-9400 to schedule your free consultation. 




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