Do I Have to Pay Alimony if I am Unemployed?
Losing your job can be an incredibly stressful and destabilizing experience. Some people may think that the silver lining is that it could get them off the hook for making spousal support or alimony payments. However, that is not the case. Even if you have lost your job, you must continue making court-ordered spousal support payments. Failing to do so could result in legal consequences, such as being held in contempt. That does not mean though that you are out of options. It is just important to make sure that you follow the right steps legally to ensure you do not get in any trouble. Generally, the best thing you can do is consult with an attorney about filing a request to modify the amount of your alimony payments with the court.
How Do I Get My Spousal Support Payments Modified in Tennessee?
In order for a court to grant a modification of the amount of the alimony payments that you are making, the judge must find that there has been a substantial and ongoing change to your income. This means that you are unlikely to be successful if you file a petition for modification with the court immediately after losing your job because there is no evidence at this point that the change is ongoing or that it will not be temporary. Instead, it is a good idea to first file for unemployment benefits. If you receive unemployment benefits in an amount comparable to your income, the court would likely not approve a modification request, and would have you continue making your alimony payments in the same amount.
You will also be expected to continue actively looking for employment during this time. If you are unable to qualify for unemployment benefits or find new work, or if you receive a lower amount of unemployment benefits or have to accept a job with a lower salary, a court is more likely to approve a modification that will allow you to make payments in a lesser amount. It is important for you to be able to show that you have actively been looking for other employment opportunities and that you were unable to find a higher paying job (if you accept a lower paying one), so make sure that your employment efforts are documented.
If you do not have sufficient assets to continue making payments while unemployed it is important to petition the court for a modification rather than missing a payment which would not work in your favor. If you are unsure of how to proceed, consult with a lawyer as soon as possible before you end up in this situation.
Contact the Law Office of David L. Scott
If you are located in Murfreesboro, TN and you need help modifying the amount of alimony payments that you have been ordered to pay due to a change in your financial circumstances, the Law Office of David L. Scott can help. Contact David L. Scott today to schedule a consultation.