The time span between the date on which a request for alimony is filed and a hearing takes place can often be six months more or less. That time span has been significantly lengthened as a result of the repeated court closures associated with Covid. A financially dependent spouse often does not have the resources which would allow him or her to support themselves during that time span. An award of temporary alimony is often the solution.
Temporary alimony is typically negotiated after an exchange of pre-trial discovery between the respective attorneys. Turning again to the delays associated with Covid, it is frequently necessary to make a compromise in order to achieve an agreement. In other words, the financially dependent spouse might accept a lower amount of temporary alimony because it is better than no award of alimony. The financially dependent spouse can achieve some level of success by getting an agreed upon amount of temporary alimony without waiting for a court hearing. The financially dominant spouse indirectly achieves a level of success by paying a lower amount of alimony (knowing that, if no alimony is paid at all, the court could in theory punish that financially dominant spouse by making the award of alimony retroactive).
Once that temporary agreement concerning alimony is entered, and once it becomes a court order, the spouse paying alimony does not have the power to unilaterally back out of that agreement. If the financially dominant spouse stops paying the agreed upon temporary alimony, he or she could be looking at a finding of contempt in a future court hearing. And while courts are slow to set alimony hearings, courts are quick to set contempt hearings.
I currently have two active cases involving the scenario set forth above. In both cases, I represent the spouse receiving temporary alimony. In neither case is the financially dominant spouse happy about the alimony award but one of those two spouses who are currently ordered to pay temporary alimony has been foolish enough to unilaterally stop making those payments. That spouse is now facing a very quickly set contempt hearing. And an order to repay the retroactive alimony. And an order to pay their spouse’s attorney fees.