Actions to enforce alimony orders in North Carolina

There are some cases in North Carolina in which a person who was ordered to pay a former spouse alimony either falls delinquent or refuses to pay at all. In those cases, the law provides several remedies for the intended recipient to utilize in order to collect the amounts rightfully owed to them.

Upon notification of the delinquency or failure to pay alimony, the court may order the amount to be paid in a lump sum to the recipient. The court may also order the transfer of title of property to the recipient or place a lien against the payer’s real or personal property to secure payment. Payment of court-ordered alimony may be made by wage garnishment or bank levy.

Courts may find the payer to be in contempt of the court’s order and thus subject to the arrest and bail provisions under state law. The payee is also viewed as a creditor with all of the rights creditors have to seek and enforce a judgment against the delinquent or nonpaying party. The payee may notify the court through filing a motion for contempt in order to enforce the alimony award.

People who are ordered to pay alimony who need a change to the amount due to financial circumstances may file a motion with the court to seek an alimony modification. As the consequences for simply failing to pay or allowing delinquent amounts to accrue may be quite severe, those who are ordered to pay alimony should continue to do so until the court issues its decision regarding the modification request. Those who need such a modification may consider getting the help of a family law attorney as soon as their financial circumstances have changed.

Source: North Carolina General Assembly, “Chapter 50. Divorce and Alimony. “, December 31, 2014