Lawrence, NJ asked in Divorce and Family Law for Maryland

Q: My ex is in arrears for alimony in Maryland, he pays something each month but not the full amount

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1 Lawyer Answer
Mark Oakley
Mark Oakley
  • Rockville, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: You can file a motion to (1) hold your ex in conempt of the court order to pay the full child support amount, and (2) enforce the child support order. You will need to list the total amounts over the time period he should have paid, and th amounts he actually paid, to support your motion. If you have evidence of what he paid, then be prepared to bring and show it to the judge. There will be a show cause hearing scheduled on the contempt motion for your ex to explain himself and argue why he should not be held in contempt, and the court will also hold a hearing (usually the same time) on the motion to enforce. The difference between the two is that, in a contempt hearing, your ex faces the possibility of fines and jail if it is determined he failed to pay when he had the means to pay and deliberately paid less. However, the court must conduct a factual inquiry into his financial situation, his income and reasonable living expenses, and determine what amount he can afford to pay and has available to pay toward the arrearage. The judge then enters an order directing payments by certain dates. If he makes those payments, he will "purge" the contempt finding and avoid the punitive penalty of jail. A motion to enforce the child support order is the vehicle by which the court determines the amount he should have paid but didn't, and orders payment and/or a judgment in your favor. Your ex may respond to your motion by filing a motion to modify the amount of child support if he can show that his financial condition (income primarily) has worsened and that application of the child support guidelines to both of your current incomes and child related expenses would result in a significant change in what he should be paying. The burden is on him to produce evidence to support any such modification. He cannot change the amount he owes prior to the date he files any motion for modification, however. When you file the motion, you will need to have him served with a copy and a show cause order to appear. If your child support order was entered through the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE), the you file your request through that office and they will pursue the matter for you and arrange service and schedule a hearing.

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