A court order to pay spousal support obligates you to pay your former spouse according to the schedule laid out in the order. Some people miss out on a payment or two, perhaps due to circumstances beyond their control. If you are late with a payment, you will likely have to pay interest on the late amount.
The Judicial Branch of California explains what you might expect in the event you fail to make a payment on time.
Payments of interest per year
California law imposes a mandatory interest charge on late spousal or partner support payments. If you are late, you will have to pay 10% interest on the overdue amount for every year your late payment is outstanding. State law adds the late charge automatically, and a judge has no power to halt it.
Interest payments on installments
You can pay off your past-due alimony in a number of ways. You might arrange through a court order to pay in installments, or your ex-spouse may ask a judge to garnish your wages, taking a specific amount per month until your wages have paid the outstanding amount.
Regardless of how you pay, you will still accumulate interest until you have paid off the outstanding balance.
Asking a judge to change support
Your financial circumstances may worsen, so you might want a judge to lower your alimony payments until your finances improve. However, be sure to pursue this option as soon as possible. You will have to pay according to your current schedule regardless of your financial distress.
Given that you cannot avoid paying interest on overdue support, it is imperative to keep on top of your financial situation so that you can seek an alimony change and avoid late payments that could cost you more money down the road.