What can I do when he stops paying spousal support?

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What can I do when he stops paying spousal support?

He stopped paying spousal support. He says he has no job and he does not own any property. Do I have a legal recourse?

Asked on May 21, 2009 under Family Law, Washington


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 14 years ago | Contributor

You need to contact the attorney who represented you in court.  If you do not have one get one or call legal aid.  You can even file papers with the court yourself but it gets complicated.  And who says he as nothing - him??  Maybe he has income you know nothing about or property as well.  Let the court decide.

Under Washington if the obligor spouse (in this case your husband) fails to make the payments that are required by a support order, the recipient spouse (that's you) may file a petition to hold the obligor in contempt of court.  Contempt of court is defined as a wilful refusal to comply with a valid court order.  In many instances, a court will not hold an obligor spouse in contempt if the payments are promptly made up.

If the payments are not made current, a court may order the obligor spouse to spend time in jail. .  An obligor spouse may purge himself of contempt by bringing all payments current.  If an obligor spouse posts bail and fails to bring the payments current, a court may order the amount of the bail applied to the amount owed to the recipient, less court costs.

Courts have the power to order the attachment of an obligor spouse's assets upon a showing that the obligor owes support payments and has voluntarily reduced his income to avoid making payments, has left the jurisdiction and has not been found, or any other circumstance that would indicate that the obligor spouse will not comply with the support order.  The property attached may be either sold to satisfy unpaid support or it may be held as security against future nonpayment. The attachment of assets can include the interception of tax refunds to which the obligor spouse is entitled.

Upon a finding that the obligor spouse owes payments under a valid support order, the court may enter a judgment in favor of the recipient spouse and against the obligor spouse.  Such a judgment has the same character as other money judgments and can earn statutory interest on the amount that was reduced to judgment.

Hopefully this helps.


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