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How Unemployment Could Affect Your Divorce


Although couples dissolve their marriages for a variety of reasons, financial stresses remain one of the leading causes of divorce in the U.S. In fact, financial difficulties can also affect the divorce process itself. For instance, one spouse’s unemployment could significantly impact the other spouse’s ability to collect alimony or child support. In these cases, determining whether the unemployment is voluntary or involuntary is critical to the ultimate outcome of a case, so if your soon to be ex-spouse is unemployed, or you were recently laid off or injured at work and are unable to secure employment, you should contact a Florida child support attorney who can help ensure that you receive a fair and equitable settlement.

Voluntary Unemployment  

For many of those who are without work and are in the middle of divorce, unemployment is not voluntary, but the result of disability, injury, or plain bad luck. However, it is also not uncommon for a person to purposely remain unemployed, either to spite the other spouse or to affect the outcome of the divorce process. In these cases, judges have the option of using the party’s imputed income, or the amount that the person would be making if he or she were working, to determine how much he or she will owe in child support. When making these calculations, courts take a number of factors into account, including the parent’s:

  • Past earning and work history;
  • Educational level;
  • Occupational qualifications; and
  • Reason for being underemployed or unemployed.

If a party is unemployed and collecting government benefits, the court may also take these amounts into account when estimating income. However, Florida family law courts are not permitted to make imputed income calculations based on income records that are more than five years old.

Involuntary Unemployment  

Generally, courts only use a person’s imputed income to calculate child support and alimony when it is determined that the individual is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed. When a parent is unable to secure employment because of a lack of opportunities, qualifications, or work experience, on the other hand, courts are more likely to opt for ordering a lower alimony or child support payment. In the event that the custodial parent is employed and has a higher income, a judge may even waive the non-custodial parent’s obligation to pay child support until he or she finds work. Alternatively, a court could give the unemployed parent a certain number of weeks or months to acquire a job before mandatory support payments actually start.

Call Today for Legal Support  

If your soon to be ex-spouse is unemployed or you yourself are out of work, it is important to retain a lawyer who can present your case to the court and ensure that you receive a fair settlement. To learn more about the effect that unemployment could have on your own divorce, please call dedicated Fort Lauderdale spousal and child support attorney Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. at 954-945-7591 today. Initial consultations are offered free of charge, so please don’t hesitate to call or contact us online.



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