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Impact of A Job Loss on Spousal Support

When you divorce, the court may enter a spousal support order, or there may be an agreed-upon spousal support arrangement. This is a legally-binding court order requiring one of the spouses to pay financial support to the other, lower-earning spouse. The length of spousal support can vary depending upon many factors evaluated by the court. For example, it may be ordered for a brief period of time in order to allow the supported spouse to renew credentials or re-enter the workforce.   In other situations, spousal support is awarded on a longer basis and can continue until remarriage of the recipient spouse or death of either spouse.

If you have been ordered to pay spousal support, you must pay as required and follow the court order. Unfortunately, if you lose your job, making the ordered payments can become impossible. The job loss will not automatically end your obligations and it is essential you understand the impact of a job loss on spousal support. Brown & Charbonneau, LLP can provide you with the assistance you need to reduce support if you can no longer pay. Call as soon as possible after your job loss so we can act quickly.

Understanding the Impact of a Job Loss on Spousal Support

A job loss can sometimes reduce your spousal support obligations depending upon the circumstances. When the payment amount is no longer feasible or fair due to the loss of a job, you will need to petition the court for a modification of the existing support order and will need to demonstrate that a material change in circumstances has occurred.

If your ex agrees with you that a modification of spousal support is appropriate, you can stipulate to the modification. In this instance altering the support order should be relatively simple. You may still be required to file a formal motion, but the court   should modify the order after a brief hearing in which you and your spouse both express support for the change.

If the recipient spouse is not in agreement that the job loss should reduce spousal support, then you must convince the court that a change is reasonable in light of your current financial circumstances. The court will consider:

  • Whether the job loss was intentional or voluntary. You may not quit your job or purposefully act to get yourself terminated in order to lower your income and avoid your spousal support obligations.
  • Your current employment status. If you have lost a job but have another that pays similarly (or if it is very likely you will get a similar job in a very brief time) then you may not have your support order modified.
  • You have other sources of income and ability to pay. If you have significant investment income, rental income or income from any other sources, you may still be able to pay the required spousal support despite the loss of your job.

Because the impact of a job loss can have a profound effect on your situation and on spousal support, it is important to have an experienced attorney provide you with information on how your employment change will affect your support obligations. Call Brown & Charbonneau LLP today at 714-505-3000 to speak with a member of our legal team and get help taking the legal steps to reduce spousal support to fit with your current finances.