What To Do if My Ex Isn't Paying Alimony in Illinois

Updated on December 6, 2021
Updated: June 21, 2022

Spousal maintenance payments aren't informal agreements, but they're court-imposed. This means that if either party violates the divorce settlement agreement, they're said to be in contempt of court, for instance, if one party is refusing to pay spousal support to the other spouse. This is a serious criminal offense that won't just end up with a mere slap on the wrist, but with hefty fines and even potential jail time. Those who choose to willfully or foolishly hide their new financial circumstances or don't pay alimony payments may even be held in criminal contempt.

Based on the financial circumstances and the severity of the wrongdoing, the wrongdoing party may also be required to reimburse court fees and other financial damages. In scenarios where one spouse is found in contempt of court, heavy fines are typically levied instead of jail sentences because the violations rarely warrant that severe punishment.

However, these punitive legal actions won't happen automatically, and the first step to take when you find your ex has violated their court order is to file a motion for contempt. Beginning this legal process is straightforward if you have an experienced attorney by your side because having a quality family law attorney on your side can make a significant difference in reaching a resolution.

At Tommalieh Law, our experienced Orland Park divorce attorneys can advise you on your legal options if your ex isn't paying alimony. To schedule a no-cost initial consultation, contact our skilled Orland Park divorce attorneys today at (708) 232-0017

What Types of Alimony are Available in Orland Park, Illinois?

Illinois law allows a party to request temporary alimony while divorce proceedings are ongoing. Temporary alimony helps the supported party maintain the financial status quo during the divorce process. Before the divorce court judge awards alimony, the judge must evaluate each party's income, whether the paying party also has child support obligation, and whether the non-paying spouse needs economic assistance. The temporary alimony award typically ends when the family law judge finalizes the divorce process and creates a new court order.

Final spousal support orders may include rehabilitative spousal maintenance, which the divorce court judge can order temporarily or permanently with a periodic review. Rehabilitative alimony gives the lower-earning spouse financial assistance while acquiring job skills or otherwise provides the recipient spouse time and motivation to become financially independent following the divorce. 

paper cutouts of family standing by gavel and scale, What To Do if Your Ex Isn't Paying Alimony in Illinois

Sometimes, the family law court will order that one party permanently support the other. Permanent spousal maintenance is typically reserved for spouses that can't support themselves after divorce because of their age, illness, or other factors.

What Factors Do Illinois Family Law Courts Consider When Deciding Alimony?

Before a divorce law court in Orland Park, Illinois can consider the amount and duration of spousal maintenance to grant, the family court judge must evaluate the following factors to determine if alimony is necessary:

  • Each party's separate property and income, including marital assets, awarded in the divorce case.
  • Each party's need for spousal support
  • Each party's reasonable present and future earning capacity 
  • The standard of living maintained during the marriage
  • The duration of the marriage
  • The time the dependent spouse needs to acquire the appropriate training, education, and employment to become economically independent
  • Each spouse's emotional and physical health
  • Both parties' income, including retirement benefits and disability benefits
  • Tax consequences of marital property division in the divorce
  • Whether one party spouse contributed to the other party's career advancement or education during the marriage, and 
  • Any agreements for spousal support between the spouses.

Besides the factors mentioned above, the family law court may use a standard formula as a basis for creating the final alimony award in Illinois. Divorce court judges have discretion when it comes to spousal maintenance, and the family law judge will decide the final amount and duration of payment of alimony.

What Happens if My Ex Doesn't Pay Alimony?

If your ex-spouse isn't paying the court-ordered payment, your family law attorney can file a contempt action in court. Once you prove to the family court judge that your ex is behind in spousal support payments, the divorce court judge has the discretion to order several outcomes. To make sure you get paid the spousal support payments plus interest, the court can order that your ex’s bank accounts, tax returns, or wages be garnished. If you file a contempt of court action and your ex-spouse is found guilty, then the family court judge can fine or jail your ex, though incarceration is rare.

Additionally, your divorce attorney can pursue a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) to recover a portion or all of the spousal maintenance your ex owes you from their retirement or pension benefits. If your ex-spouse is self-employed and wage garnishment isn't an option, this could be a good option for your circumstance.

Under 750 ILCS 16/15, not paying spousal support is charged as a Class A misdemeanor offense or Class 4 felony offense. Ultimately, the prosecutor has the discretion to file this charge against your ex, but your family law lawyer can file a verified complaint with the prosecution office to start the proceedings.

What To Do if My Ex Isn't Paying Alimony in Illinois

If your ex-spouse is found to be willfully refusing to pay spousal maintenance they know you need, willfully not paying the spousal support payments for at least 6 months, or has arrears of at least $5,000, then they could be found guilty of a misdemeanor offense punished with jail time, monetary fines, and full restitution of the spousal support owed to you with interest.

If your ex-spouse left the state to evade the court-ordered alimony regardless of how much unpaid spousal maintenance has accrued, has willfully not paid spousal support in at least one year, has arrearages or least $20,000, or hasn't paid spousal support for a second time, then they could be charged with a felony offense. The felony offense will result in longer imprisonment, hefty fines, and restitution of all payments owed to you with interest.

When your ex refuses to pay spousal maintenance payments with no reasonable explanation, you may find yourself in a tight economic circumstance. Working with an experienced divorce attorney for the first time can be intimidating, however, partnering with an experienced divorce lawyer from Tommalieh Law is the most effective way to make sure your spousal maintenance is paid on time and that any alimony payments arrears are paid to you with interest.

Our legal team will review your situation, answer your queries, and develop a solid defense strategy to pursue what you're owed. Call our family law firm in Orland Park today at (708) 232-0017 to schedule a no-cost initial consultation.

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