I was granted permanent alimony in my NC divorce. For years, child support enforcement garnished both child support and alimony from my ex spouse. After that, his employer garnished his paychecks for alimony for years until he quit his job (our children now grown and do not receive child support). I have not received alimony for over three years. I think he is receiving early social security payments at age 62. Can a judge order his social security payments to be garnished? If so, is there a specific form to use? The social security office told me they do garnish social security payments for alimony and the judge sets the amount.

Dear das1:

I have never personally seen where a court has ordered garnishment of social security payments. However, the court can garnish other assets or compel him, by an order, to pay your alimony in lump sum format or transfer of property. The real question here is why you waited three (3) years to enforce your alimony? That may lead a court to believe that you are not substantially in need and allow for a modification from him to reduce or terminate the alimony. I would suggest that you immediately file an action to enforce the alimony.

Janet L. Gemmell
Board Certified Family Law Specialist
Cape Fear Family Law

In certain circumstances Social security benefits can be subject garnishment in order to satisfy an alimony obligation that is outlined in a court order.
I agree with Janet, that you should file an action to enforce your judgment and move through the appropriate channels to ensure you are paid.

thank you for the information on alimony garnishment. does the judge decide the percentage of alimony to be garnished out of social security payments or does the motion set the amount? I wonder if there is a sample motion to look at for the garnishment of social security payments for the purposes of alimony.

It will be up to the judge whether your motion to garnish social security is granted, and also whether the garnishment would be a set amount or a percentage. You can get access to a library of legal forms (including the appropriate motion) and communicate with an attorney through our Rosen Online Service. This service only costs $199/month, and could be help you pursue enforcing your alimony order.