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Tips for Collecting Alimony Arrears

You might be frustrated if your ex-partner is not paying you alimony as per the court's order. Fortunately, you have a range of steps you can take to collect alimony arrears. Below are some practical tips that can help. Just ensure you act fast before the arrears pile up too much.

Consider Negotiation

Approach your former partner and find out the reason for the missing payments. Who knows, you may be lucky enough to convince the person to clear the arrears. For example, if your ex owes you a lot of money, you can give them a discount if they can clear the arrears in a lump sum payment. Another tactic is to agree to an installment payment plan.

If your ex does make a promise, ensure you get the promise in writing. Ideally, you should involve an attorney to draft the agreement and make it legally binding. Otherwise, you might find yourself with more arrears and without proof of the arrangement.

Try Mediation

Consider mediation if the negotiation plan doesn't succeed or if your ex is being difficult. Mediation requires a neutral third party who can guide the negotiation and ensures each person gets to air their side of the story. The mediator should have a reasonable understanding of Pennsylvania alimony laws.

Gather the Evidence

You may have to seek legal redress if you don't succeed with negotiations or mediation. Gather the relevant evidence before you go to court. Some of the evidence you may need includes:

  • A copy of the divorce judgment that awarded you alimony

  • Your property settlement agreement

  • Copies of receipts of alimony payments

  • Copies of your ex's retirement account statements

  • Copies of your ex's social security papers

In short, you need everything that can prove your ex's income, the alimony amounts, and the arrears.

Prove Your Entitlement

Alimony, even permanent alimony, rarely continues forever. In most cases, the same documents that specify the alimony amount specify the end date. Even without a specific end date, Pennsylvania alimony terminates:

  • If the receiving spouse remarries

  • If the receiving spouse cohabits with another person

  • If either spouse passes away

Ideally, the paying spouse should file a motion to terminate the payments before they stop paying you. However, that doesn't always happen.

In some cases, your ex-spouse might stop the payments on erroneous beliefs. Maybe your spouse believes that you are cohabiting with someone even though that isn't the case. In such a case, prepare to defend against your ex's claim. You may also need to consult a family lawyer to help you counteract your ex's claims.

Use a QDRO

A qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) is a legal tool people use to divide some retirement benefits during a divorce. However, you can also use a QDRO to claim alimony arrears. In such a case, you will use the QDRO to go after the remaining portion of your ex's retirement benefits to clear the alimony arrears. A family attorney can help you prepare the QDRO.

Submit a Claim Against the Estate

As previously mentioned, alimony payments automatically stop if either party dies. However, you still have the right to collect alimony arrears after your ex's demise. In such a case, you are a creditor of your ex's estate. Proceed just as any creditor would do to claim their dues from the estate. You can even instigate the probate process if no one does.

Hopefully, you will get the alimony arrears before too long. Note that you should tailor the collection efforts to your unique circumstances. Kalasnik Law Office can review your circumstances and advise you on the best way to get the money your ex owes you. Contact us as soon as possible for help.

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