Defending contempt charge


My husband has decided to defend his contempt charge of not paying alimony. He has not WILLFULLY NOt payed, he just doesn’t make enough money to pay, so he feels he has a good case.


  1. what documents does he have to show in court to prove he doesn’t have the money. His budget? His debts? How does a judge decide if he is over or under-inflating a budget? Does a couple living in Chapel Hill have a higher cost of living than someone else in another part of the state,for example ? Does the judge look at his cost of living in his previous marriage?

  2. Can he ask for his ex spouses budget to show that possibly she doesn’t need the support?

  3. Is the fact that he owes back alimony and not child support make it more likely the judge will not come down hard on him/

  4. Is it an all or nothing deal? Meaning if he owes 10K in back alimony and he can show he is not willfully not paying, can it all be dismissed by the judge? Or, can the judge make him only pay a proportion? Or will the judge either say "you owe $0 or you owe $10?

5/ Any suggestions to how to better defend himself or questions the other attorney may ask him on the stand?

thank you


The alimony is actually still post separation support as ED is not settled yet. Will that make a difference in how to defend the contempt. His financial circumstances have changed dramatically since PSS ordered.



Your husband should bring documentation of his income and expenses to the hearing, a budget may be helpful, but the judge will decide the reasonableness of the expenses by making note of actual bills.
The contempt hearing however does not offer your husband an opportunity to modify the support, the hearing is meant only to determine if he is willfully disobeying the Order.
ED must be completed before, or at the same time alimony is determined, as it is a factor to be considered by the court.


thank you.

So, if he is not found to be willfully disobeying the order can the amount he owes be put to zero and he never has to pay it?

Or, can the exspouse still take him but to court if in the future he has more income?

If they have not settled ED can this be a factor in unequal distribution?


It really depends on the judge’s findings of fact, to eliminate future payments a motion to modify will need to be filed. Alimony awards can be considered in unequal distributions.