If my ex paid me more than the divorce agreement stated, do I need to pay the overage amount back?

My divorce agreement stated in year 1-4 my alimony was to be $1500, then in year 5 it was to decrease to $1000. ($500 less) My ex continued to pay me $1500 for Jan-Oct in year 5. He is now demanding I pay him back $5000 (Jan-Oct @ $500 per month). Do I need to pay him if it was an error on his part?

Asked on March 23, 2011 under Family Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, you do need to pay him back: the fact that someone accidentally overpays and makes an error does not change their legal obligations or your legal rights--you only had a right to $1,000 for that time period, not $1,500, and his obligation was to only pay $1,000. If you don't voluntarily repay you, he could sue you for the difference.

Look at it this way: suppose he'd paid you only $1,000 each time for 10 months in years 1 - 4 and you made an error and did not catch the shortfall at that time; wouldn't you expect and demand that he pay you the extra amount? And you'd have a right to that money; similarly, if he accidentally overpaid, he has a right to get the overpayment back.

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