Do I Have to Pay Alimony If I Lose My Job?

Alimony is a court-ordered system in which one spouse provides financial payments to the other spouse to help them maintain the same standard of living they had during the marriage. If you had a long marriage, support may not have any ending date. If you were married less than ten years, you will probably still be on the hook for half the length of the marriage. This means that if you are ordered to pay alimony, you may continue to be obligated for many years to come. In this time, your financial situation may change and you might experience job loss. But how does this affect your alimony obligation? An experienced family law lawyer from Boyd Law Attorneys at Law can review your situation and explain.

Court-Ordered Alimony 

Alimony is typically court-ordered, whether you and your spouse agree to the terms or the court imposes them. As such, you continue to be obligated to pay alimony even if you experience job loss, disability, or another financial setback. The court will not know you lost your job and automatically stop ordering payments. If you want to change your obligation, you will need to seek a change from the court by filing a petition to request a modification to your existing order.

Non-Modifiable Alimony Orders

Alimony orders can generally be modified by either party after they are put in place unless the alimony agreement specifically states otherwise. If your alimony order is non-modifiable, job loss may not affect the order. You will still be obligated to make the same payments as you were before the job loss occurred. Failing to do so could give rise to claims of contempt of court. 

Seeking Modification of Alimony Orders

If you have a modifiable alimony order, you can take steps to reduce or temporarily stop alimony payments until you can secure employment. If your ex agrees, your family law attorney can write up an agreement and present it to the judge. 

If your ex does not agree to your requested changes, you will need to file a petition to request modification of the alimony order. However, California courts will only change a long-term spousal support order if there has been a significant change since the court made the last order. In your paperwork, you will need to provide information about:

  • The changes you are requesting 
  • The reasons you believe the order should be changed
  • Facts to support why the order should be modified 
  • Your income and expenses
  • Supporting documentation

Factors the Court Considers When Modifying Alimony Orders

If you and your ex do not agree, the court will schedule a hearing to review your request. The court considers specific factors when determining whether to modify an alimony order, including:

  • Length of the marriage
  • Standard of living during the marriage
  • Age and health of both spouses
  • Any history of domestic violence 
  • Evidence of any criminal conviction of the spouse seeking spousal support
  • The earning capacity of both spouses
  • Assets and debts of both parties
  • Contributions the supported spouse has made to the education and training of the payor spouse
  • Whether the spouse seeking support had periods of unemployment because they were raising children
  • The needs of both spouses

Seek Skilled Legal Representation 

If you need assistance with the process of modifying your alimony order after job loss, it is important that you seek legal representation promptly. The court will only order a modification to be effective from the date you made the request, so the sooner you can file your paperwork, the sooner you may be able to obtain the relief you are seeking. Contact the well-versed family law attorneys at Boyd Law for help.