Spousal support payments are court-ordered payments that one spouse must make to the other after a divorce. Some refer to spousal support payments as spousal maintenance or alimony payments. If your ex-spouse has defaulted on a court-ordered payment, here’s what you need to know about Washington state spousal support services to recover money owed to you.

Petition or Motion to Initiate a Contempt Action

If your ex-spouse fails to pay mandatory spousal support, then you have the right to file a petition or motion to initiate a contempt action. If the motion properly details the fact that your ex-spouse violated his or her legal duties, then the court will issue an order. The court-issued order will require the violator to appear before the court. If the violator does appear before the court, he or she will have the chance to explain why he or she violated the spousal support order and why the court should not grant your request for relief.

Division of Child Support Enforcement Services

Similarly, if your child’s other parent owes child support payments, then you may contact the Division of Child Support (DCS) in Washington State. The DCS will attempt to collect payments for you in the event that the other parent is not fulfilling his or her legal obligation. You must send all history of payments you received to the DCS, give DCS copies of all support orders of your case, and notify DCS of any changes in your address, separation status, or whether or not you require legal assistance.

See our previous post on enforcing child support payments for more information. If you have an open child support case with DCS, the DCS may work to collect alimony payments for you. If you are not seeking back child support payments, then DCS likely will not offer assistance with spousal support.

Income Withholding Order

After you have file a motion to initiate contempt, or provided the necessary information to DCS about your case, then DCS or the court may issue an Order to Withhold Income. The order is issued to the employer of the person who is failing to pay support. The order requires the employer to begin withholding wages immediately, and the withheld money will be used to pay spousal support payments.

If an employer fails to withhold wages as ordered, then the employer may have to pay the amount that the employer should have withheld but did not. If your ex-spouse is not working and therefore does not have any wages to withhold, then the individual may face other penalties, such as those listed below.

  • Withholding federal or state tax refunds
  • Seizing property
  • Revoking a driver’s license
  • Suspending business or occupational licenses

If you are not receiving your court-ordered spousal support payments as you should, then you do have multiple options for recovery. Review your options with a lawyer in Bellevue to determine which may be appropriate and for help with the process.

Seek Legal Services from the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny

If you are trying to recover spousal support payments to which you are legally entitled, seek legal assistance from an alimony lawyer as soon as possible. Filing a petition or motion to initiate contempt action, pursuing an income withholding order and filing the proper paperwork are legally specific processes. Some may make mistakes, which may delay the enforcement timeframe.

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny are ready to assist you. To start, call us today at 425-460-0550. You also can contact us online by visiting our contact page.

Molly B. Kenny
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Divorce and Child Custody Attorney Serving Bellevue and Seattle Washington