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Feb 17 2023

What Happens if I Don’t Pay My Spousal Maintenance?

If you pay court-ordered spousal maintenance, you’re required to continue paying the amount specified for the length of time specified. If you simply stop paying your ex this maintenance, you could find yourself in contempt of court. This does not, however, mean that you have no other legal options, and a trusted Minnesota divorce attorney with considerable experience successfully handling complex spousal maintenance cases can help you better understand and explore these options. 

A Note about Parenting Time

If you have missed a spousal maintenance payment or two, it’s time to get back on track or to seek a modification that is better aligned with your current financial situation, but you need not fear that your parenting time schedule will be affected. Parenting time sets the schedule by which you and your children’s other parent divide your time with them, and it is predicated on the best interests of your children, which includes spending time with both of you. While your ex may have legal recourse when it comes to lapsed maintenance payments, depriving you of time with your children is not one of them. 

Spousal Maintenance

Your spousal maintenance responsibility is based on your ex’s financial need and your ability to help address that need – typically until the recipient gains the experience, job skills, or training necessary to become more financially independent. If, however, the circumstances that resulted in your current spousal maintenance – or alimony – obligation have changed significantly, the court may consider a modification. The kinds of change that tend to support modifications of spousal maintenance include all the following:

  • The recipient remarries, which automatically ends the alimony obligation unless the couple negotiated an agreement that says otherwise
  • The recipient cohabitates with someone else, which can have the same effect as marriage
  • The recipient begins earning significantly more
  • The payor begins earning significantly less – and does not do so as a means of limiting this financial responsibility 

If the current maintenance is deemed unfair or unreasonable in light of the current circumstances, a modification is in order, which may mean a reduction in the amount or putting an end to the payments altogether. 

Your Prenup

If you and your spouse addressed the matter of alimony in a prenup or postnup agreement that stated the terms would hold regardless of the circumstances involved – and the court signed off on it – it’s called a Karon waiver, and your alimony obligation will not be modified.

Negotiating a Change

If you and your ex are in agreement regarding an alimony modification, the court is very likely to implement your terms. It’s important to note, however, that until you do make it official with the court, your original orders remain enforceable. 

Seek the Skilled Legal Guidance of an Experienced Minnesota Divorce Attorney Today

If you need to reduce your alimony payments, the dedicated Minnesota divorce attorneys at Atticus Family Law are well-prepared to skillfully advocate for a resolution that supports your rights. Learn more about what we can do to help you by contacting us today.

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