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What steps can you take to protect your alimony payments?

The end of a marriage can be a difficult time for couples in New Mexico and elsewhere. However, once a divorce settlement is reached, the divorced spouses need to follow the agreed terms. If a spouse requested alimony and it was awarded, those payments need to be made each month. Because these payments are based on the financial needs of the recipient spouse, the failure to pay alimony could be very detrimental to that spouse. Therefore, it is important to take steps to protect these payments.

The first thing a recipient spouse can do to safeguard these payments is establishing a security interest for the payments. This means that the alimony payments are secured by a recorded security interest against real property that is owned by the spouse paying alimony. If the spouse fails to make alimony payments, the recipient could enforce the security interest at a default interest rate.

The next way is through a money judgment. A payee spouse could seek a money judgment on alimony arrearages. However, the divorced spouse could come to an agreement in the divorce settlement if this were to occur in the future. The third option is through contempt. The court has the right and power to automatically hold spouses in contempt for failing to make support payments. This also includes adding interests to arrearages and even suspending the payer's driver's license.

Another way to protect alimony is to include a provision in the agreement that, if the payer spouse fails to pay alimony, he or she is responsible for the payee's attorney's fees and costs for enforcement. In the event of death, life insurance is a way to secure spousal support payments. This requires a provision stating that alimony will remain in force each and every year, using life insurance to make those payments.

Because spousal support is often a heavily relied on monthly payment, a recipient spouse could face much detriment if their ex fails to make timely alimony payments. While there are enforcement actions, it is important to understand what steps divorcing couples can take immediately to help protect these payments. Those dealing with this or other alimony issues should take the time to understand their options. This will help them navigate their issues, protecting their interests and rights.

Source:, "How to Protect Your Alimony," Rebecca Zung, March 28, 2016

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