What Can Happen If I Don't Pay Alimony?

Alimony payments are set by the court as an official order, and failure to abide by that order carries the same legal consequences as any violation of a court order including wage garnishment, suspension of certain licenses and criminal prosecution for contempt. The penalties for non-payment of court-ordered alimony are similar to those provided for non-payment of court-ordered child support, according to Jeff Landers, writing for Forbes.

Violation of a court order is a crime, and penalties for the violation can only be imposed after the accused is proved to have committed the crime. Once the violation has been admitted to or established in court, however, judges have a wide range of options for dealing with the offender. As Forbes explains, these options vary somewhat by state, but they usually involve some attempt by the court to recover the delinquent money. The measures most commonly used are wage garnishment, seizure of assets or the freezing of bank accounts and interception of funds, such as tax refunds. In addition, many states allow the court to suspend the offender's professional licenses and notify credit reporting bureaus of the delinquency. Violators can be criminally prosecuted for misdemeanor or felony contempt of court, a charge that sometimes leads to jail time.