There are two basic types of Oklahoma garnishment cases involving alimony payments. In the first situation, a divorced person garnishes the wages of her former spouse in order to compel him to pay the alimony he owes her. In the second situation, a creditor, such as a credit card company, attempts to garnish the alimony payments from the spouse receiving those payments in order to satisfy a debt owed by her. The law in some states is less clear in this situation. However, Oklahoma statutes exempt alimony and child support payments from garnishment.
Alimony in Oklahoma
Alimony, or spousal support, can be granted by a court in Oklahoma during or after a divorce or legal separation. The purpose of awarding alimony is not punitive but rehabilitative. The award is designed to maintain the financial equality between the parties to the greatest extent possible. There is no set formula in Oklahoma law for computing the amount of alimony a court can grant. For example, some courts may award one year of alimony for every three years of marriage. Courts use a number of factors when determining the amount of alimony to award, including the age and health of the parties, their education, earning capacity and lifestyle, and the allocation of marital assets directed by the court.
To extract alimony payments from an ex-spouse, one option is to file for a court order to garnish his wages. The ex-spouse's employer is then obligated to turn over part of the wages representing alimony payments directly to the ex-spouse. The general rule in Oklahoma, which follows federal law with respect to garnishment of wages, restricts garnishment to a maximum of 25 percent of an ex-spouse's disposable wages and salary or 30 times the federal minimum wage for that same pay period, whichever is less. However, alimony and child support are treated differently.
Limit on Alimony Garnishment
Alimony and child support are the main exception to the general rule limiting garnishment to 25 percent of an ex-spouse's wages or other income. In Oklahoma, it is possible to garnish as much as 50 to 65 percent, depending on the circumstances, of the wages or income of an ex-spouse who owes you alimony payments. Alimony and child support are treated differently in other garnishment situations as well. Although Social Security benefits are generally exempt from garnishment, alimony and child support payments can be garnished from such benefits.
If your ex stops sending alimony payments, you can ask the state to garnish his wages under the Oklahoma Child/Spousal Support Income Assignment Statutes. This is not the only avenue you can explore. You also have the option to go to the court that granted your divorce and awarded you alimony and ask it to order your ex to pay what he owes or be held in contempt. If your ex continues to balk, the court has the power to impose fines and even jail time.