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If I have a bonus check and I am in arrears on spousal support (not child support) will my ex be entitled to the entire check?

Columbus, OH |

Say I have 10-k in arrears and I have a 10-k bonus check, will my ex get the entire check? or is it percentage based? Thank you!

My check (wages) are already being garnished for the spousal support and I currently have it arranged to pay back the arrears out of my check. My bonus check is performance based so it is not guaranteed income. There is no order that I know of requiring me to turn over a check. (I dont know if that's because they know of my bonus check or not) Since Ohio law requires that my employer contact the children service agency...will that change her entitlement? Is it percentage based or will she get all that I owe in arrears?

Attorney Answers 2

  1. Unless there is an order requiring you to pay a certain percentage of any bonus to your ex, or an order requiring you to turn over any bonus check to satisfy the arrearage, I don't believe she would be entitled to anymore than her regularly scheduled support payment. That being said, I don't have enough information to give you a more definitive answer, although, if you have an opportunity to pay down the arrearage, it might be a good idea to do that.

    The answers provided are for informational purposes only and shall not be considered legal advice on your specific fact situation. If you would like information specific to your particular fact situation, please feel free to contact me directly.

  2. The administration of spousal support collection is different from that of child support. Whereas there are a number of statutes that deal with the collection of child support from wages and bonuses, with respect to spousal support your obligation is defined by the decree granting the support order. For this reason, in order to effectively answer your question, an attorney would need to review the specific language contained in the order granting the spousal support. Generally there is not a mechanism in place for your employer to notify either the support recipient or the court of the existence of your bonus. However, in your question you note that your employer is required to notify the “children service agency" (I believe you actually mean child support agency) I assume there are also children involved and therefore the notifications will be made with respect to the obligation in behalf of the children.

    Failure to pay spousal support in accordance with the terms of the court order is enforced by a citation in contempt of court. It sounds like you are currently in violation of that court order, and therefore susceptible to being found in contempt and punished accordingly. This is where the advice of attorney Stassin comes into play. It would seem difficult to justify to the court when you are 10K behind in your obligation, and you had 10K in hand, why you neglected to pay at least a reasonable percentage of that bonus in satisfaction of the court order. I suggest that you contact legal counsel and discuss the situation with them in order to fashion a payment schedule, including the bonus, that will give you the best opportunity to avoid a finding that you are in contempt of court. This may be particularly important in your situation, as I would expect when the support recipient receives word from the child support agency that a bonus was available (even if they did not need to attach it because there was not child support arrears), the spousal support recipient will be on notice and likely be initiating the contempt process. Contacting legal counsel now may help you avoid the stress and expense of defending the potential contempt of court case.

    IMPORTANT LEGAL NOTICE: Mr. Piper's response set forth above is not legal advice and it does not create an attorney-client relationship. Mr. Piper's responses to all questions posted on AVVO are intended to provide general information based upon the his understanding of the facts stated in the question, and are for the general educational purposes of the public, not any specific individual. Also, a particular case may involve additional facts and circumstances which might invalidate some or all of the concepts provided in this answer and therefore you should not rely upon this answer in any individual situation. In order to offer legal advice about this or any similar situation, a qualified attorney would likely need to consider many factors not stated in the question and would need to question the potential client in order to clarify the specific facts operable in that case. If you would like to obtain specific legal advice about this issue, it is recommended that you contact an attorney in your state. Mr. Piper is licensed to practice law in the State of Ohio, and may be contacted directly via email at:

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