Can Alimony/Maintenance Payments Be Lessened if I Lose My Job?

Can Alimony/Maintenance Payments Be Lessened if I Lose My Job?

Are you divorced and paying alimony, i.e., “maintenance”, to your former spouse? Have you experienced a serious reduction in income due to loss of job, or medical infirmity? You may well find the amount of maintenance you are paying to be a serious hardship. What, if anything, can be done to reduce the payments?  Modifying an existing order or agreement regarding support is a difficult and potentially expensive process. You need to make sure your consult with the right attorney before going to Court. The Garden City firm of Fass and Greenberg can provide the advice and you need.

Under What Circumstances Could Your Alimony Be Changed?

If you have recently lost your job, or have been forced to take a lower paying job through no fault of your own, you may have grounds to seek a modification, or in some cases, a suspension of your maintenance payments. If, at the same time you lost your job, your former spouse receives a promotion, inheritance, or any substantial improvement in finances, you may have a case for a downward modification.   

If you consult with the Garden City firm of Fass & Greenberg, we will explain the legal technicalities surrounding your post judgement application. Specifically, there are different standards or thresholds involved if your maintenance obligation arose as a result of a court’s decision (judgement after trial), or written agreement (contract-based obligation) between you and your former spouse.

In the case of the former, you will need to demonstrate to the Court that there was a substantial change in circumstances from the time of the judgement to the time of your application, which would warrant a downward modification of your maintenance obligation.  Applications to downwardly modify maintenance payments have been granted where a spouse lost his or her employment due to the acrimonious and vindictive behavior towards him or her. Additionally, forced retirement, due to a leveraged buyout of a spouse’s employer, has been held to be a sufficient change in circumstances to justify a downward modification.

However, where the maintenance obligation resulted from a written agreement between you and your spouse, you will need to demonstrate more than just a change of circumstances to obtain a modification.  You need to demonstrate that compliance with said obligation creates an “extreme hardship” for the payor spouse (you). In these situations, downward modifications are granted in only very limited instances.  Even in the case of an attorney who was convicted of a federal crime and disbarred, the attorney (payor spouse), was held to have failed to demonstrate extreme hardship necessary to modify his maintenance obligations.  In this case, the Court reasoned that the payor spouse’s dilemma was created by the attorney himself, i.e., due to his  “volitional actions.”   

All potential clients need to understand that evidence of a loss of employment is not sufficient in and of itself to prevail. You need to demonstrate after losing your job that you made diligent efforts to obtain employment commensurate with your qualifications and experience. In addition, the Court will inquire if your reduction in income is in anyway voluntary (you decide to leave a lucrative job to become an entrepreneur, or artist), or can be attributed to your own behavior (such as engaging in criminal activity, or poor performance). In those cases, your application will be properly denied. 

Contact the Firm of Fass & Greenberg for More Information

When you have questions or concerns about your present or possible future rate of alimony, you can contact the firm of Fass & Greenberg. We are the leading family law firm in Garden City that can give you honest answers and top-notch legal assistance in this matter.

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