Job loss is a stressful event that can cause numerous financial issues for a person and their family. If you are paying spousal support and lose your job, you need to know how job loss impacts alimony payments in Florida.
Stopping payments without discussing the matter with an Orlando family lawyer could result in severe penalties for failing to pay court-ordered alimony. However, there could be a way to modify alimony payments to protect your financial interests after losing your job.
What Happens if I Can’t Pay Alimony Because I Lost My Job in Florida?
Alimony is financial support paid to a spouse during or after a divorce. It is intended to help a spouse become financially independent, maintain the standard of living the couple enjoyed during marriage, or remain at home to raise the couple’s children.
Couples may negotiate an alimony settlement or have a pre-nuptial agreement that resolves the issue during a divorce. Courts may grant alimony if there is a need for financial support and the ability to pay support payments.
If you lose your job and cannot pay your alimony payments, you can file a petition with the court to terminate or modify alimony payments. Modifying a current alimony order is not an automatic process. You must file the appropriate motion and provide evidence substantiating your inability to pay alimony payments because of job loss.
Courts only modify alimony orders if a substantial change in circumstances warrants a change in alimony obligations. Factors a judge considers when deciding whether to modify alimony payments include, but are not limited to:
Whether you voluntarily quit your job or intentionally caused unemployment
The efforts you made to find another job
The length of your unemployment
The financial impact on you and your ex-spouse
How your health and age impact your ability to find a new job
Whether your ex-spouse can improve their earning capacity and how long that might take
If your ex-spouse’s financial situation has changed considerably since the court issued the original alimony order
Judges may consider other factors relevant to the situation. The judge could terminate alimony, modify the alimony amount, or decide you should continue with the current alimony payments. Working with an experienced Orlando divorce lawyer who understands how to argue modification cases gives you the best chance of a positive outcome in your situation.
Will I Have To Pay Alimony From My Unemployment Compensation?
Generally, unemployment compensation or reemployment assistance benefits are considered income for purposes of calculating alimony payments. Therefore, the judge might temporarily decrease alimony payments based on the amount of unemployment compensation you receive. The impact of unemployment compensation on alimony modification depends on various factors, including:
The amount of the alimony payments;
The amount you receive in unemployment benefits;
Your ex-spouse’s current income;
Other financial resources available to you and your ex-spouse;
The type of alimony being paid (i.e., durational, permanent, rehabilitative, or bridge-the-gap alimony); and,
Your good faith effort to find employment.
Unemployment benefits are temporary. Therefore, they will not have an impact on long-term alimony obligations. If the judge temporarily modifies the amount of spousal support, the court could reconsider the matter when you obtain another job or your unemployment benefits end.
Can I Terminate Alimony Payments if I Lose My Job?
If your job loss is temporary, the court will be unlikely to terminate alimony payments permanently unless your ex-spouse has become financially independent. Becoming financially independent or receiving an increase in income could be a substantial change in circumstances that terminates or decreases alimony payments.
If you suspect your ex-spouse has become financially independent because of an increase in income, receiving an inheritance, or other change in circumstances, talk with an Orlando family law attorney. You might be able to modify or terminate alimony payments based on your ex-spouse’s change in circumstances instead of your job loss.
What Should I Do About My Alimony Payments if I Lose My Job?
If you lose your job and pay alimony to your ex-spouse, consult a family law attorney as soon as possible. You do not want to wait until you are several months behind to address the matter.
Gather evidence to take to the consultation with a lawyer, including the termination notice, job applications, proof of unemployment compensation, and other proof of other resources or income. An attorney discusses your legal options, including filing a petition for modification of alimony payments.