Can I Stop Making Alimony Payments If I Lose My Job?
No one is excited to have to make alimony or spousal support payments, and some people may even joke that they hope to lose their job so that they no longer have to make them. However, fortunately or unfortunately, losing your job does not get you off the hook for making spousal support payments. In fact, if you miss a court-ordered spousal support payment, even after losing your job, you can face serious legal consequences, including being held in contempt of court. It’s important to understand though that you are not out of options. You may be able to get a reduction in the amount of spousal support payments that you have to make each month, but there is a process that you must follow in order to avoid getting in any trouble.
How to Reduce my Spousal Support Payments
In order to make any change to the amount of spousal support payments that you owe, you must get permission from the court. You can do this by filing a request to modify spousal support payments with the court, which a lawyer can help you with. In order to grant a modification order, the court must find that a significant and ongoing change has occurred with regard to your income. If you have just lost your job, it may be hard to meet that threshold, because there is no evidence yet that your unemployment will be ongoing as opposed to temporary. Likewise, if you apply for and receive unemployment benefits equivalent to your previous salary, the court will likely uphold your existing payments and not grant a modification. However, if you do not qualify for unemployment benefits or receive them in an amount that is lower than your regular salary, you may qualify for a modification if you can show that it is likely that the situation will continue for an unknown period of time. This can be demonstrated by showing that you have been making an active effort to find employment while receiving your unemployment benefits. Courts are often reluctant to grant modifications for someone who has been on unemployment benefits for less than 1 – 2 months since it is still hard to establish in less than that amount of time that the situation is not temporary. If you are in a position where you do not have the financial resources to continue making spousal support payments for 1 – 2 months though, and you will miss a payment if you do not receive relief from the court, it is still best to file a petition as opposed to missing a payment. If you are unsure how to proceed, talking to a lawyer can give you a good idea of your options and how best to move forward.
Call the Faulkner Law Group
If you need to modify your spousal support payments for any reason, the experienced Tampa family attorneys at the Faulkner Law Group are ready to help. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.