Divorce is fraught with all sorts of challenges for everyone involved and rarely brings out the best in anyone. Sadly, it is not uncommon for one spouse to try to turn the situation to their advantage, especially when it comes to alimony payments. If you suspect that your spouse is playing games to avoid paying alimony, there are a few things you can do.
1. Collect Proof
The first step is to gather evidence that your spouse is misrepresenting their income. This could include things like tax returns, pay stubs, or bank statements. If you can prove that your spouse is capable of earning more money, but is choosing not to, the court will calculate the amount of income that is consistent with his/her past employment, education, and ability to earn.
2. File a Motion to Modify Alimony
If you currently have an alimony or child support award, you, or your attorney, can file a petition to modify a prior award with the court. In your petition, you will have to show that there has been a substantial change in the other party’s income. If your income has decreased (e.g., due to loss of job, illness, etc.), that also may allow you to file a petition. If a parent does not abide by a child’s time-sharing order, this can also be grounds for modification.
Note: an attorney might be able to file a modification to have these legal fees paid by your former spouse.
3. Get a Lawyer
It is important to have an experienced family law attorney represent you in this process. A lawyer can help you collect information, file the necessary paperwork, and represent you in court.
4. Be prepared for a Battle
Modifying alimony can be a long and difficult process. Your spouse may try to fight the motion or drag out the process. Be prepared for a battle and be patient.
5. Don’t Give Up
If you have legitimate reasons to believe that your spouse or former spouse is hiding their true income, an experienced lawyer, can through “discovery” (requests for production, subpoenas, proof that the other party’s claimed income is inconsistent with their life-style, etc.) establish your alimony or child support entitlement.
If you are facing this situation, it is important to remember that you are not alone. There are many people who have been through this and there are resources available to help you.
Hoffman, Larin & Agnetti has been fighting for the rights of our clients for over 40 years in Miami and Broward and we are celebrating 25 years in Islamorada and Key West. Our Family Law attorneys fully understand that we don’t handle ‘cases’; we represent people, their families, and their businesses, aggressively, compassionately, and most importantly, effectively. Call us at 305-653-5555 for a free case evaluation.