How Unemployment Affects Your Child & Spousal Support Divorce Obligations
September 14, 2015
Losing your job is never fun. While you probably have a lot of different obligations to fulfill even without your job, you will still have to make sure you pay your child support and spousal support obligations.
Child support obligations
Child support does not just stop when a person becomes unemployed. While child support is partially based on ability to pay, the court considers many different factors when determining the appropriate amount of child support. It is important to file for a child support reduction as soon as you lose your job, as the date of the reduction, if any, is typically based on when you initially file for a reduction. If you are voluntarily unemployed, or lost your job due to a fault of your own, the court is unlikely to reduce your obligation.
However, a job loss alone may not be enough to reduce your support obligations. If you received severance payments, those may be considered as income for child support. Additionally, if you receive unemployment benefits, those may be subject to child support withholding as well. Even if the court orders a reduction in payment obligations, it may be temporary, only meant to sustain you through a short-term job loss.
Spousal support obligations
Like child support, spousal support does not pause automatically when you lose your job. And, like child support, the court will typically not allow for a reduction in support if the judge determines that you are voluntarily unemployed. This could be either because you quit a job without another lined up, were fired for poor performance or other preventable problems, or otherwise purposely lost your job. However, if you experience an involuntary job loss, you can file for a reduction in your support obligation. The court may consider a temporary reduction or even a permanent change if the judge determines that the overall situation has significantly changed since the original order.
The most important thing to remember about support obligations and job loss is that nothing is automatic. Although it might feel overwhelming to deal with the hassle of filing paperwork in court along with everything else in your life, it is important to try to file paperwork as soon as possible to protect your financial interests and ensure the court is aware of the situation as soon as it occurs.