Can Cash Count as Spousal Support?

When people get a divorce, it’s not uncommon for the higher-earning spouse to make cash payments to the lower-earning spouse during and after the divorce proceeding, especially when there are children involved. For example, let’s say that “John” was the breadwinner and he moved out of the house. The following week, John started giving his wife, “Mary,” cash payments of $200 a week to help her out with the bills. Can John keep doing this, or will he face wage garnishment?

In a divorce action, the court can order one spouse to pay temporary spousal support while the divorce is pending and the court can order that the spousal support continue after the divorce is final. Once a judge makes such an order, the spouse ordered to pay the support has to start making monthly spousal support payments starting the date the order says they have to begin. Can the spouse continue making their cash payments? Read on as we shed light on this issue.

Wage Garnishment for Spousal Support

When it comes to collecting child support and spousal support, the courts have discovered that it’s far more effective to order wage assignments, also known as “wage garnishments.” Wage assignments tell employers to take spousal support or child support payments out of their employee’s wages. Employers are very accustomed to these, so they are nothing new.

“Can payments be made in any other way?” Yes, it is possible. If you and your spouse agree the payments can be made in another way, you can ask for the wage assignment that is typically sent to the employer to be “stayed,” which means to have it put on hold. In these situations, the parties put their heads together and decide how they’ll work out the spousal support payments.

When You Don’t Want Your Wages Garnished

Let’s say you’ve had an earnings assignment (wage garnishment) and you wish to fight it. Since earnings assignments are legally allowed, people can’t usually fight them in court. However, there are situations where someone can object to the earnings assignment that was issued to their employer. For example, suppose you and your spouse did enter into an agreement that says you won’t have an earnings assignment. In that situation, the court may be willing to review your case.

Next: Is Spousal Support Automatic in a California Divorce?

To learn more about earnings assignments (wage garnishments) for spousal support, we invite you to contact Burch, Coulston & Shepard, LLP for further assistance.

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