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Alimony (also known as spousal support or spousal maintenance) is a court order as part of the final divorce decree. If the obligor (the parent required to pay alimony) fails to pay alimony, the obligee (the parent who receives the alimony) can complete paperwork with the court that will result in enforcement of the alimony order.

The State of Florida has numerous enforcement options for alimony cases, including possible wage garnishment, judgment liens, or civil or criminal contempt charges that may be punishable by fines and imprisonment.

Some obligors may be unable to make alimony payments because of substantial, material, and unanticipated changes in circumstances. In those situations, the court may make an exception.

Lawyer for Alimony Enforcement in West Palm Beach, FL

Are you owed alimony or are you having difficulty making alimony payments in South Florida? Contact Quality Family Law as soon as possible.

Our divorce attorneys in West Palm Beach represent clients all over Broward County, Miami-Dade County, and Palm Beach County, including such communities as Riviera Beach, Greenacres, Lake Worth, Palm Beach Gardens, Royal Palm Beach, and many others.

You can have our lawyers review your case and answer all of your legal questions as soon as you call (561) 557-8686 to take advantage of a free, no obligation consultation.

Overview of Alimony Enforcement in Palm Beach County

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Types of Alimony Enforcement in Florida

When an obliger is not making alimony payments to the obligee, the obligee can file a legal motion in court. When the court reviews a Motion for Enforcement or Motion for Contempt, it may impose one of the following types of enforcement on the obligee:

  • Financial Judgment — The court may order a money judgment against the obliger in the amount of the alimony owed;
  • Civil or Criminal Contempt — Depending on the facts of the case, an obliger may be held in direct or indirect civil or criminal contempt of court;
  • Judgment Lien — A court may issue a judgment lien that includes unpaid alimony, interest, and attorney's fees for the obligee, and the oblige can use the judgment to file either a writ of execution that allows certain property of the obliger to be seized and sold off with proceeds being given to the obligee, or a writ of garnishment under which the obliger's wages are garnished for alimony payments.

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Criminal Contempt vs. Civil Contempt in West Palm Beach Alimony Enforcement Actions

Whether contempt is civil or criminal largely depends on what type of violation. Criminal contempt involves conduct that challenges the authority or the dignity of a court, while Civil contempt involves failing to do something that the court has ordered a person to do.

Contempt of court may also be direct or indirect. Conduct constituting contempt committed in the actual presence of the court is considered direct contempt. Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure § 3.830 stipulates that a person accused of direct criminal contempt will be given the opportunity to present evidence of excusing or mitigating circumstances.

Indirect contempt of court, however, applies to conduct not in the actual presence of the court. Under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure § 3.840, indirect criminal contempt offenses are prosecuted as follows:

  • The judge can issue and sign an order directed to the obliger, stating the essential facts constituting the criminal contempt charged and requiring the obliger to appear before the court to show cause why he or she should not be held in contempt of court;
  • The obliger, personally or by counsel, may move to dismiss the order to show cause, move for a statement of particulars, or answer the order by way of explanation or defense;
  • The judge may issue an order of arrest of the obliger if the judge has reason to believe the obliger will not appear in response to the order to show cause;
  • The obliger can be arraigned at the time of the hearing, or prior thereto at the obliger's request. A hearing to determine the guilt or innocence of the obliger will follow a plea of not guilty, and all issues of law and fact shall be heard and determined by the judge;
  • If the contempt charged involves disrespect to or criticism of a judge, the judge shall disqualify himself or herself from presiding at the hearing;
  • At the conclusion of the hearing, the judge will sign and enter of record a judgment of guilty or not guilty;
  • Prior to the pronouncement of sentence, the obliger will be afforded the opportunity to present evidence of mitigating circumstances.

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Alimony Enforcement Resources in Florida

Alimony | Clerk & Comptroller, Palm Beach County — Unified Family Court handles all case types related to family issues and has services available at all four Palm Beach County courthouse locations. On this section of the Palm Beach County Clerk & Comptroller's website, you can find answers to frequently asked questions about alimony. You can also search court records, learn more about fees and costs, and find informartion about other matter handled in Unified Family Court.

Palm Beach County Clerk
205 N. Dixie Hwy.
West Palm Beach, FL 33401
(561) 355-2996

Supplemental (Modification) Petitions | 12.905 Forms A – D — Visit this section of the Florida Courts website to download alimony modifcation forms. You can find Supplemental Petition for Modification of Child Support, Supplemental Petition for Modification of Alimony, and Supplemental Petition for Temporary Modification of Parenting Issues for Child(ren) of Parent Activated, Deployed, and Temporarily Assigned to Military Service forms. The website also has information about how the forms work and basic instructions (step-by-step) to fill out the forms.

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Quality Family Law | West Palm Beach Alimony Enforcement Attorney

If you have been unable to make alimony payments or you are not receiving alimony payments in South Florida, it will be in your best interest to retain legal counsel.

Quality Family Law represents individuals in Wellington, Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Jupiter, and several other nearby areas in Broward County, Miami-Dade County, and Palm Beach County. Our West Palm Beach divorce lawyers can help enforce a court order for alimony or protect your rights if you are facing possible enforcement actions.

Call (561) 557-8686 or complete an online form to have our attorneys provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your case during a free initial consultation.

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