It is common for divorced parents whose children live with their ex-spouse to pay for alimony and child support. Being such a parent can be difficult as you may be doing your best to meet your duties and still somehow fall short of your obligations. If you find yourself no longer capable of paying for both alimony and child support at the amount ordered by the court, it is best to contact your attorney.

Caleb is a parent who was having a hard time paying for alimony and child support. The judge in Caleb’s divorce ordered him to pay non-modifiable alimony of $5,180 per month and $2,470 for monthly child support. As requested by Caleb’s ex-wife, the monthly alimony and child support dues were paid from wages garnished from his employee account.

Since Caleb was not making enough money, he was falling behind on both his obligations. He went back to court to request that he pay first for monthly child support and then pay alimony as soon as he fulfilled child support obligations. The state agency in Maryland that supervises the distribution of alimony and child support had its own way of dealing with Caleb’s issues. The money allotted from Caleb’s wages to pay for alimony was roughly 67.7% and 32.3% for child support. Caleb appealed that the court should redistribute the allocation for alimony versus child support. However, the Court of Special Appeals stated that the trial court was not in any way required to order redistribution of allocation of the wages and that even if the judge agreed with Caleb, it still could not do so.

There is what we call a “separation of powers” in constitutional law. This generally means that the legislature, executive agencies, and the courts are co-equal. It follows then that one government branch cannot demand or impose on the other branches how to perform or execute their functions. In Maryland, a sector or component of the state’s executive branch is responsible for handling and distributing the alimony and child support payments. It states that the court system or judicial branch cannot demand or impose on the executive branch that handles alimony and child support to perform a redistribution of allocation of wages in Caleb’s case because it would be against the principle of “separation of power”.

How do you deal with too much alimony that is non-modifiable?

If you have suffered a setback that renders you incapable of meeting non-modifiable alimony, the constitutional limit prescribed by the separation of power principle towards redistribution of allocation of payment should not render you helpless. You still have some options. An option could be requesting for the termination of the court-ordered alimony obligations. We had a previous case in which a husband sought for the termination of his non-modifiable alimony obligations. The Court of Appeals in that case stated that termination of alimony is different from its modification, so that the limitation imposed by the separation of power principle on alimony modification cannot be applied to its ultimate termination. The judge or judicial branch could not modify alimony payments, but it could terminate them. To find out what is the right and applicable option in your case on alimony and child support obligations, it is highly recommended that you have a qualified family law attorney by your side. Give us a call to speak with one of our family law attorneys today.