Local News

New Law Cracks Down on Spouses Making Late Alimony Payments

Posted December 14, 1998 6:00 a.m. EST

— A new state law effective Jan. 1 will crack down on spouses who pay their alimony late or refuse to pay until they are forced to in court.

Attorneys say they have seen the number of alimony cases soar in this state since a 1995 change in the law omitted marital fault in rulings of alimony.

Although attorneys are seeing more cases, they say that does not necessarily mean more spouses are paying. The new law solves the problem of late or missing payments by going straight to the source.

"This is the last place I thought I'd be at this point in my life," said Dianne Dement.

When Dement got married 32 years ago, she thought it would be forever. But three months ago, hers ended in divorce like more than half of all marriages.

Dement found herself with 30 years of experience as a wife and mother, but no "job" experience. That's when she filed for alimony.

"I have no other means of income," Dement said.

She says payments were on time the first month but soon came later and later.

"I run a household, still I have a life. I depend on this alimony to pay my bills, and my creditors don't like it when you're late," Dement said.

Beginning Jan. 1, North Carolina law will require all late alimony payments be deducted directly from paychecks.

Dement's husband, Ed, admits he pays his alimony late on occasion, but says being self-employed,he pays as soon as he is able. He thinks the new law is unfair.

So what happens when his alimony comes out of his paycheck first?

"I have no money to live on. None whatsoever," said Ed Dement.

The automatic alimony deduction is not forced on everyone who pays alimony.

A spouse can only ask for it if their payments have been late or if they have not received them in the past.