When a couple makes the difficult decision to end their union, they will have to iron out the terms that will apply to the termination of their marriage, including custody, support payments, and the division of assets. Alimony is one of the most hotly contested divorce matters. When a dependent party needs financial support to maintain a similar standard of living after the separation, the court can order the higher-earning spouse to pay alimony. This is particularly the case when one spouse is the primary breadwinner and the other is a stay-at-home parent, as there is a significant financial discrepancy. The higher-earning spouse must provide this court-order payment for a set time. However, with the unemployment rate at an all-time high, many individuals wonder whether they still have to pay alimony if they lose their jobs. Please continue reading to learn about alimony obligations in Massachusetts and how our dedicated Bristol County Alimony Lawyers can help you today.
Can I stop paying alimony if I lose my job in Massachusetts?
In the unfortunate event that you have lost your job and are responsible for making alimony payments, it’s vital to understand that you’re still obligated to provide this type of financial support despite not having a steady income anymore. Essentially, alimony will not automatically cease due to loss of employment. When an alimony order is created, the current income of the higher-earning spouse is considered to ensure that they can afford such monthly payments. However, when there’s a substantial change in circumstances, it can warrant a modification to an existing alimony order.
To reduce or terminate alimony, you must request an alimony amendment with the court and demonstrate that there has been a substantial change in your financial circumstances. While the loss of employment can serve as compelling evidence of a significant change in circumstances, you will still have to demonstrate that you did not attempt to deliberately avoid providing financial support to your ex-spouse, establishing that unemployment was your last resort. The judge will consider various factors to determine whether they should grant a modification to an existing alimony order:
- Why did they lose their job or receive a pay reduction
- Whether they have actively looked for comparable work
- The health and ability of both parties to work
- Whether the dependent spouse’s financial situation changed considerably since the initial alimony order
- The appropriateness of a temporary or permanent alimony adjusmtne during unemployment
- Any other relevant factors
Ultimately, the court will consider various factors when determining whether an adjustment of an existing alimony order is reasonable. Until the court has decided, the payor must continue making alimony payments. It’s imperative to note that the payor is not permitted to request an alimony request based on unemployment until 90 days after they lost their job or had a significant reduction in pay.
If you have lost your job and can no longer afford to make your alimony payments, please don’t hesitate to contact a determined lawyer from The Law Offices of Cynthia L. Hanley, P.C., who can help you request a modification to your existing court order.