How Job Loss Can Impact Your Alimony Payment
Alimony is a type of financial support that is paid by one former spouse to another upon divorce. Often, these payments are made until the lesser earning spouse becomes financially self-sufficient or until a certain amount of time has passed. In some cases, however, an unanticipated event, like the job loss of the payor could affect those payments much earlier. If you are currently paying alimony and recently lost your job, it’s important that you have a good understanding of how that job loss could impact your ongoing obligations to your former spouse.
The type and amount of alimony that a former spouse has to pay to another is dictated by a few different factors, including:
- The standard of living enjoyed by the couple during the marriage;
- Both parties’ incomes;
- The parties’ educations and work histories; and
- Whether the couple shares children.
Often, couples are able to negotiate an alimony settlement on their own, or they may even have a prenuptial agreement in place that addresses this issue. Alternatively, a court may have to step in and grant alimony based on one spouse’s need for support and the other spouse’s ability to pay. If the paying party later loses his or her job, then that person’s ability to pay will also be affected. In these cases, it may be necessary to seek a modification of the court’s alimony award.
Modifying or Terminating Alimony
Modifying an alimony order is not an automatic process, so just because someone loses his or her job does not mean that he or she is allowed to just stop making alimony payments. Instead, the payor will need to go through the official process of modifying or terminating the alimony award. So, a person who is responsible for making alimony payments who lost his or her job and was no longer able to make those payments would need to file a motion with the court, seeking modification or termination of the award. As a part of this process, the petitioner would need to provide proof of the inability to pay due to job loss. Whether a court agrees to approve the petition will depend on a number of factors, including:
- Whether the petitioner voluntarily quit his or her job;
- The petitioner’s efforts to find new employment;
- The length of unemployment;
- How the petitioner’s age or health has affected the job search; and
- Whether the petitioner’s former spouse’s financial situation has changed since the original award.
After assessing the evidence and these factors, a judge will either modify the alimony amount, deny the petition and order the payor to continue making the same payment, or terminate the award entirely. In some cases a judge could also decrease alimony payments on a temporary basis based on the amount of unemployment compensation that the payor is receiving while out of work.
Contact a Florida Alimony Attorney
If you recently lost your job and have questions about how that will affect your alimony obligations, please call experienced Fort Lauderdale alimony lawyer Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. at 954-945-7591 for help. You can also set up a free consultation by completing one of our online contact forms.