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Can I stop paying alimony if I cannot afford it?

On Behalf of | Apr 18, 2023 | Blog, Divorce

Financial troubles can happen to anyone at any time. When you and your former spouse got a divorce, you may have been in a superior financial situation. The court ordered you to pay spousal support to your former partner.

It may have been fine at that time because you could afford it. But what happens when you no longer have the ability to pay without putting yourself in financial trouble? Can you just stop paying? The quick answer is no, but you have options.

You cannot stop paying

An award of alimony comes from a court order. You cannot ignore court orders without legal ramifications. In this situation, the court could hold you in contempt for ignoring the order if you stop paying the support. A contempt order could mean you end up in jail and add to your financial troubles.

Seek modification instead

Instead of simply stopping payments, you should go through the proper legal channels. You have the right to ask for a modification.

The court will consider your finances, looking for evidence that you cannot afford the payment in the original order. At that point, the judge can modify the order, which would reduce how much you pay to an affordable amount, or end the order.

You should be aware that you will still owe any amount of support you failed to pay prior to going to court. The judge cannot erase that debt unless you can show good cause for not making payments.

Never stop paying alimony. It will only cause you further issues. You should petition the court quickly to request a modification.