How to collect spousal support
Usually, the payments are taken directly from your spouse's pay by their employer and sent to you (called an earnings assignment or income withholding). Some people call this a wage garnishment. If your spouse does not pay support, there are steps you can take to collect the support you're owed.
How you get the support payments
Often payments come directly from your spouse's employer
Whenever a judge orders someone to pay spousal support, they usually also sign an earnings assignment order. The earnings assignment order tells your spouse's employer to take the support payments out of your spouse's pay. If your spouse also has a child support earnings assignment, the employer takes child support out first. Spousal or domestic partner support is taken out after that.
The employer sends the money to you. If you also receive child support, the employer sends the money to the State Disbursement Unit (SDU) who then sends it to you.
If your spouse does not have a regular employer, like they are self-employed or work contract jobs, the judge can order your spouse to send payments directly to you.
You can agree to get support payments directly from your spouse
Some people agree to this if their spouse has a history of making payments on time and having their employer pay will cause them hardship. If you also receive child support and the Local Child Support Agency (LCSA) is part of your case, then someone from that agency will need to agree as well. The judge will need to sign the agreement to make it part of the order.
If you agree to get payments directly from your spouse, you can still ask for an earnings assignment, but ask that it gets put on hold (stayed). Then, if your spouse ever stops paying support to you, you can ask the judge to end the stay of the earnings assignment. This means you can have it sent to the employer.
Your court's Self-Help Center can help you with earnings assignments or income withholding orders. If you need help with the forms or your spouse's employer is not sending the money, talk to staff at your court's Family Law Facilitator or Self-Help Center.