Is there a time limit for collecting back alimony and retirement benefits?

I was divorced in 1991. In 1998 my ex-husband sent me a letter saying he was no longer going to provide me any financial support. He was living overseas and I could not afford an attorney. So, I did not pursue the matter. Our settlement agreement was for $1000 a month spousal support as well as a percentage of his Naval reserve retirement (which he has been collecting for approximately 5 years). These were figures that he suggested when the agreement was drawn up. He is again living and working overseas, but maintains a home in VA. I have never remarried and am retired. Since I did nothing earlier, is it too late to recover any of the lost alimony or retirement benefits?

Asked on September 14, 2010 under Family Law, North Carolina

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You may be prohibited from going back too far for the money based upon the statute of limitations as to contracts, but you may not be precluded from going after him for recent back monies owed and possibly for being in contempt of a court order. In other words, say the time to sue on the agreement is 6 years.  So you can go back 6 years from now but you may bot be able to collect the previous 6 years before that.  You need to act quickly, though, especially as to the pension issue.  You need to obtain a judgement against him for as much as you can. That judgement will be a right to collect back monies owed, insure future monies paid and insure that you can collect from his estate and that your estate can collect the judgement if need be.  Get legal help.  Good luck.


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