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What Happens to Alimony Payments if the Paying Spouse Becomes Unemployed?

When a spouse making alimony payments loses their job, it may become difficult, if not impossible, to continue those payments. Even so, you cannot just stop paying without risking serious legal repercussions. Unless your divorce agreement provides for relief under those circumstances, you will need to either negotiate with your ex-spouse or go to court for an order to reduce or terminate your obligation.

What Will the Court Consider Before Granting a Modification?

If you need to stop paying alimony because you have experienced a significant reduction in your income, you must wait 90 days before you can seek relief from the courts. When filing a motion with the court to reduce or terminate your obligation to your ex-spouse, you must show that the reduction in your income is neither voluntary nor temporary. To make that determination, the judge will consider several factors. These include:

  • Why you lost your job: The reasons for your job loss matter. In most instances, if you quit your job, or you were fired due to violating company policy or committing an illegal act, it will be difficult to be relieved of your alimony obligation. If you were laid off through no fault of your own, you stand a better chance of getting relief.
  • Whether or not you have searched for new employment: This relates to whether your job loss is temporary or not. You are expected to diligently seek another job and, if you are not successful, the judge will consider your efforts to as well as the relevant job market with your current level of employability.
  • Whether you can still afford the payments: If you have substantial assets or other sources of income, such as investments or rental properties, the court will review how much revenue these can generate. Depending on that level of revenue, the court may find that you can still pay some or all of the alimony, and may either award you a partial reduction or no reduction at all.

Your individual circumstances will determine the result. If you are paying alimony and need relief because you lost your job, the team at Lawrence Law is ready to advocate for your interests, to select the process that meets your needs, whether through negotiations, mediation, or seeking relief from the courts, and to help you achieve the best possible results. Contact us today to learn more.

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