A divorce settlement might be appropriate at the time it is signed regarding the amount of alimony and/or child support that will be paid. As time passes though, either ex-spouse might experience changes that could impact their ability to make the payments, such as job loss.
During divorce proceedings, your financial obligations are generally based on income. If your employer terminates you because of irresponsible behavior at work, you will likely need to keep making the same payments. It will be your obligation to find other employment to meet those financial responsibilities.
A layoff can be seen differently since this is not in your control. The best thing to do when this happens is to let the court know what happened. If you are paying alimony or child support, you might be able to adjust those amounts while you are seeking a new job.
What Should I Do if I Lost My Job?
If you were legitimately laid off or lost your job due to circumstances beyond your control, you will need to show proof of what happened. This might include a layoff letter sent to all employees, news articles, and paycheck stubs. The court may require you to hire a vocational rehabilitation specialist who can evaluate what you would be able to earn in today’s job market. They may also want to evaluate your educational background and earning background. Sometimes, they will assign a composite average that seems reasonable and allocate that as your income basis for the alimony and child support calculation.
Courts are well aware that some ex-spouses quit their jobs in order to avoid paying large amounts of spousal and child support, and doing this is never recommended. It can be seen as fraud, and besides that, when a real financial emergency arises the court may take your past claims into consideration. Even more importantly, not providing needed child support can be detrimental for family members and could affect the child custody arrangements.
If you have lost your job and are making payments to your ex, be as honest as possible. You should let them know that you are doing everything you can to locate new work, and be sure to keep a record of all the jobs you apply for, interviews, and offers.
Also, keep track of how much time and money you have been spending to find a job. It may be unwise to accept a position with a significantly lower salary even if you want it; this can be seen as an effort to avoid paying higher alimony and child support.
On the other side, you might be the one whose ex-spouse lost a job and is having problems making the payments. This can be frustrating, and you might not believe their story, but try to be as understanding as possible. If the evidence is legitimate, you might have to accept lower payments, at least temporarily.
Once new employment is secured, that ex-spouse might have to pay a specified percentage of their income to the other. In other situations, a sliding scale based on the income is put into place.
Other modifications to divorce agreements can be made when an ex-spouse loses their job. An agreement might be modified so that the employed spouse will need to pay a higher amount until the receiving spouse finds work. This is done to keep the family at the same level of lifestyle that they had before the divorce.
The main goal of post-divorce modifications is to revise existing divorce decrees. People’s conditions and circumstances are always changing, and the decree you have in place might not accurately reflect the current situation you are facing. In most cases, modifications focus on child custody, visitations, and child support as well as alimony. Besides job loss, modifications are made when one or either parent remarries or moves to another location. Other circumstances might be a change in an ex-spouses physical or mental health, substance abuse, or incarceration.
You can file a petition to modify your alimony payments with your local court in Maryland. To modify child support, one of the parents has to make a formal request to the court. Keep in mind that these requests are not always legitimate, and even if they are, the ex-spouse can try to fight it. For this reason, it is always best to have a lawyer.
Bel Air Divorce Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC Help Clients Modify Divorce Agreements After Job Loss
People’s lives change during and after divorce, and the agreements they make in court may have to be modified. Contact one of our Bel Air divorce lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC if you are facing difficulties with this process. For a free consultation, complete our online form or call us at 443-589-0150. Located in Hunt Valley and Towson, Maryland, we serve clients throughout Baltimore, Baltimore County, Bel Air, Bentley Springs, Columbia, Freeland, Hereford, Hampton, Westminster, Essex, Monkton, Sparks Glencoe, Parkton, Phoenix, Pikesville, White Hall, Carroll County, Harford County, and Howard County.