Even though such orders are important components of an equitable property division, many obligors (people who pay spousal support) see alimony orders as unfair financial penalties. That’s especially true if the order is more than a few years old. Seven or eight years is a long time to pay seven or eight hundred dollars a month. As a result, obligees (people who receive support) do not get a significant portion of the $9 billion per year in court-ordered payments.
If your court order does not match the amount of spousal support your ex pays, a Buffalo, MN divorce lawyer can give you a number of collection options.
Buffalo, MN divorce lawyers commonly use demand letters in personal injury cases. These letters sketch out the legal basis of the claim, which in this case, is an existing court order. Then, most letters demand a settlement payment and also give obligors the option to work out a permanent solution.
These letters never produce any money right away. But they are excellent attention-getting devices. That’s especially true if a divorce mill handled your marriage dissolution or you did not have a separate Buffalo, MN divorce lawyer during the initial proceeding.
Conciliation Cout Lawsuit
Chapter 491A courts are the small claims courts in Minnesota. These judges deal with a number of issues, including suits for money damages if the amount in controversy is less than $15,000. That’s nearly always the case with regard to past-due alimony, even if the obligor is several months behind.
Small claims court is a little like Judge Judy without cameras. You do not need a Buffalo, MN divorce lawyer. In fact, lawyers often get in the way. If you are prepared, you will probably win. And, an attorney can help you prepare your case.
The big downside of Conciliation Court is that it is normally not a court of record, and so the obligor can automatically appeal the decision. That appeal completely wipes out the judgment. But, most people don’t know that.
Family Court Contempt Order
A civil contempt order is a step up from a Conciliation Court judgment. Contempt orders are only appealable under limited circumstances. The only way to deal with them, in most cases, is to purge the order by complying with it or coming to an agreement with the other side.
This agreement usually consists of a lump-sum payment up front of perhaps half the arrearage, and a payment plan for the rest. It may be a good idea to modify the amount downward as well. If the obligor feels like he won something, he may be more inclined to voluntarily comply. That’s also a win for the obligee.
Keep reading to find out more ways to convert court orders into real money.
Federal Payment Intercept
Lots of people get tax refunds in the spring. Many other people receive Social Security or other federal benefits. In some cases, a judge may sign an order authorizing the obligee to intercept these payments to satisfy the arrearage.
These payment intercepts are quite common in child support cases, but somewhat rare with regard to alimony. The judge will probably not sign such an order unless the spousal support is clearly need-based (e.g. the obligee has custody of a disabled child). Additionally, payment intercept could stir up a hornet’s nest. Many obligors are very unhappy, to say the least, when they do not get payments they feel like they deserve.
This enforcement method is basically low-intensity payment intercept. Suspension is an attention-getting measure as opposed to a money-generating measure. So, a suspension may not stir up a hornet’s nest. And, the obligor must take care of the arrearage sooner or later. However, most Wright County family law judges only authorize license suspension in limited cases.
This option may be the best alimony arrearage collection tool. It’s easy to use, effective, and may be available with or without a court order.
Typically, Buffalo, MN divorce lawyers include suspended wage withholding orders in alimony orders. There is usually a statement that the order does not go into effect unless the obligor falls behind. Such order become active if the obligee files a request and sends notice to the obligor’s payroll agent. That latter task is sometimes easier said than done. A Conciliation Court judge probably will not authorize wage garnishment, but a family court judge will almost certainly allow such action.
The final alimony collection method is also an attention-getting measure. Even if the obligor owns no real property in Wright County, a lien is often effective.
Generall, no separate court action is necessary. The obligee just files a copy of the judgment in the property records. Before the obligor transfers the property, the obligor must discharge the lien. These documents also adversely affect credit scores. Credit liens, like property liens, only go away if the person who placed the lien dissolves it, at least in most cases.
Work With a Forceful Attorney
If you are not getting the right amount of alimony, you have options. For a free consultation with an experienced Buffalo, MN divorce lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. After-hours visits are available.