The amount of alimony (also called spousal support) is based on the situation at the time of the divorce. A change in the situation of both the debtor and the creditor can affect the level of maintenance. However, changes are not always reported, with alimony fraud as a result.
It can be very difficult to prove a change in circumstances, especially when the fraud is committed outside the country.
Colin (34): Sanne and I had been married for just over four years. Two years ago we divorced and I pay spousal support to her. I work as a marketing manager at a bank and she works in childcare. Because her financial situation changed considerably when we broke up, it was determined that I am liable for maintenance. It’s not ideal, but that's the way it is regulated in the Netherlands.
Shortly after we split up, Sanne moved to Düsseldorf, where she has friends. There she could do the same kind of job as she had here and she wanted to make a new start after our divorce. Because her income barely changed, alimony can’t be modified. But we still have mutual friends and I know that she has been in a new relationship for a year and a half now.
I could always trust her. So that’s not why we broke up. I had no reason to assume that she wouldn’t stick to her part of the agreement to let me know of any change in financial circumstances. But the information I've heard from friends got me questioning her honesty.
For example they told me that soon she was staying at her new boyfriend’s house. Not once in a while but almost all the time. This guy works for his family’s real estate company. He has a nice, big apartment somewhere in the city center and has it pretty great out there. At first she rented a room with friends of friends, but if I understand correctly, she doesn’t live there anymore and she has been moved in permanently with her boyfriend.
I have seen their photos on Facebook and Instagram so I know that they’ve been on holiday at least three times last year. To Switzerland for skiing, to the Dominican Republic and to South Africa. Not to mention that weekend they spent in Paris and all the hip parties she goes to in Düsseldorf. Clearly these are not trips she can afford with only my monthly payment added to her income. At least, not if she also has to pay rent and her living expenses.
Of course I put her on the spot and asked if she is still entitled to spousal support. She indicated that nothing has changed and that she even has to live with less money because she cannot work as many hours in Germany as she used to. What she said about the holidays is that she spent very little money there and that she had been staying in cheap hotels only. Certainly not the first thing that came to my mind when I saw these photos, but it’s her word against mine.
It's not that I am walking away from my responsibilities but I’m not intending to continue sending her pocket money while she is being supported financially by her new partner.
Suspicions of alimony fraud
There are two types of support payments associated with a divorce or separation: child support and spousal support, also referred to as alimony or spousal maintenance.
Fraud can come from both angles: both the maintenance creditor and the maintenance debtor may withhold information that affects the level of maintenance.
It can cost a substantial portion of your income to financially support an ex-spouse or children so you want to make sure that you do this only if this person is actually entitled to.
On the other hand if you are entitled to alimony or maintenance, and your former partner is not paying, you want to know if this is justified.
Do you feel that the creditor’s or debtor’s circumstances have changed, but does the person deny that? Then you would do well to gather evidence to prove that you are within in your rights.
We can help
When there is a suspicion of fraud, whether it is the maintenance creditor or the maintenance debtor, it is important to find out if these suspicions are well founded. Since it usually involves large amounts, a professional investigation could pay off quickly.
Borderless Investigations investigates international child and spousal support cases and collects and reports evidence of fraud. We also advise on further action. Confronting your ex-partner is mostly a first and effective step. Often this is enough to get the support modified in accordance with changed circumstances. If a solution cannot be found, we help you with court actions. The report then serves as evidence.