Select Page

I Can’t Afford Alimony — What Do I Do?

by | Sep 24, 2019 | child custody and support, divorce lawyer long island ny, Family Law Attorney, News and Events

Alimony, often called spousal support or spousal maintenance, is a payment made from the higher-earning spouse to the other for the purpose of providing temporary financial assistance to a lesser-earning spouse during and after a divorce. Support payments typically continue until the lesser-earning spouse is able to support themselves financially.

If ordered to pay spousal maintenance, what happens if you can’t afford it? Fortunately, you do have legal options to reduce your alimony payments if they’re higher than what you can feasibly pay.

Divorce Attorney Consultation

How Alimony is Calculated

Spousal support is calculated similarly to child support and many factors are taken into consideration before courts make a decision as to who gets paid and how much. To award alimony, a judge will review:

  • The income and financial obligation of both spouses
  • The age of both spouses
  • The physical and mental health of both spouses
  • How long the marriage lasted
  • The standard of living each spouse had become accustomed to during the marriage
  • If one spouse stayed home to care for the children while the other pursued a career
  • If one spouse gave up educational or employment opportunities so the other could pursue their own educational or employment opportunities
  • Any history of domestic violence in the home
  • If the couple shares children and how old they are

I Was Ordered to Pay Too Much — How Can I Prove It?

If a judge in a Long Island court ordered you to pay more alimony than you can afford, you may feel hopeless, frustrated, and unsure of what you can do to resolve the situation. Spousal maintenance calculations are fairly standard, so as long as you’re providing accurate financial records, the court should come up with a payment that makes sense for you. If not, you can go back to those financial records and illustrate how paying the amount ordered will put a significant financial strain on your family. Courts are usually not so rigid that they will continue ordering you to pay support after clearly showing that doing so would be detrimental.

You may also be able to petition the court for relief if your ex-spouse’s financial needs have changed since the divorce was finalized. For example, if your ex has gotten a new job and is now making twice the amount they were when you initially dissolved your marriage, you may be able to ask a judge to reduce your payment since your ex no longer needs the funds to support themselves.

The Consequences of Failing to Pay Alimony on Time

If you fail to pay spousal support on time, you can end up facing serious consequences, including wage garnishment, seizure of your tax refund, and even jail time for being held in contempt of court. All of these are possibilities if you don’t meet your alimony obligations without notifying the court of any change in your ability to pay.

How to Modify Alimony Payments

Fortunately, you’re not stuck paying alimony you can’t afford to. If circumstances have changed since your divorce was finalized and you and/or your ex-spouse now have different financial statuses, your court order can be modified. This means that the portion of your original divorce decree that specified the amount and frequency of your alimony payments will be edited, or modified, to reflect the court’s new decision. Based on the financial documentation you can bring to the table, a judge may reduce or even terminate your alimony payments. Spousal maintenance orders are rarely legitimately permanent, so it’s important to explore the possibility of a modification any time you have a change in your financial circumstances.

Should You Hire a Long Island Divorce Lawyer?

The easiest and most effective way to modify your alimony payments is to work with an experienced Long Island divorce attorney. If you and your ex-spouse agree on the change to the maintenance agreement, you may be able to simply submit a signed and notarized copy of the change to a judge. However, this is usually not the case — the recipient often wishes for spousal support to continue and may contest the modification. A seasoned alimony lawyer can help protect your rights and best interests as you negotiate the reduction of your court-ordered support. Contact our experienced Long Island divorce and family law firm for a free consultation today at 631-923-1910.

Call 631-923-1910 or fill in the form below

Schedule your complimentary consultation and case evaluation with our experienced attorneys today. When you call, you’ll speak to our friendly Client Services Director, who will be able to answer your general questions and set up your appointment with an attorney who specializes in your unique case.

At your meeting, your attorney will describe the many options available and determine together which is the right solution for you. By the end of this meeting we’ll all understand how we can best help you to move forward.

No Cost or Obligation

There is no cost or obligation for this initial consultation. It is simply an opportunity for us to get to know each other, answer your questions and learn if Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. is right the right law firm for you. Give us a call at 631-923-1910 or fill in the short form below to schedule your free consultation and case evaluation.

All Fields Are Required


Divorce Lawyer Long Island New York



Everett Roberts
Everett Roberts
14:30 18 Mar 20
Going through a divorce was very challenging and emotional. Searching for an attorney can be challenging as well when you consider everything that is at stake. The choice I made to work with Rob Hornberger was surely the best choice available. His professionalism, expertise, and understanding made him and the entire team perfectly suited to achieve the outcomes I desired. Rob was always available to answer my questions and give me advice and legal considerations that affected my situation. The support I received from his staff was exemplary as well. The staff was courteous, kind, and also very professional. Thank you so much Rob and team for a worry free experience.
Annemarie Cusumano
Annemarie Cusumano
21:41 17 Mar 20
Being in family court especially when your children are on the line is extremely emotional and stressful but working with Robert and Christine put me at ease and made the process as pleasant as a situation like that can be. I have a now 3 year old daughter (who is the most important person in my life) and I've been working with them for over two years since my daughter was 7 months old, the case has been up and down and through it all Rob and Christine have never given up. My original case was due to a neglect charge. Cps is not easy to work with, but Rob and Christine were vigilant and I ended up getting my daughter back within 8 months and did not have to plead guilty to the neglect. Currently I am in family court to figure out a custody agreement. They are professional, empathetic, and patient. They have always explained everything thoroughly, informed me of all my options and advised me of what my best option would be. They always respond quickly when I contact them with questions or concerns and most importantly they fight for me in court and don't give up even when things get rough. Before hiring Rob and Christine I met with other attorneys who did not make me feel confident or comfortable at all about my case, so I am very grateful to have found Rob and Christine and to be represented by such great attorneys. I highly recommend them for any family court matters and will definitely continue to use them in the future if needed.
Steven Frierman
Steven Frierman
02:25 07 Mar 20
After meeting with 3 different lawyers, we felt Robert understood us best and he genuinely had our best interests at heart. This helped us resolve a few minor issues in a timely fashion and make a potentially stressful situation go more smoothly.Thank you
Randi Gottlieb
Randi Gottlieb
18:47 03 Mar 20
Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. - Mr. Robert Hornberger and his staff are beyond professional, they quickly gave me my consultation appointment, and helped me with an after-Divorce issue. Mr. Hornberger was empathetic and explained to me what I should expect. Mr. Hornberger was extremely professional and advised me of my options, he helped me proceed with accurate and smart decisions. I wish I had Mr. Hornberger and his highly recommended staff when I was getting divorced. I would highly recommend Robert and his staff to anyone who is getting a divorce or in need of help with situations after the divorce!
Rob Spielmann
Rob Spielmann
22:15 27 Feb 20
They made our process so easy. They were there to answer and help with any questions that came up. Very friendly


  • I have known Robert for more than 8 eight years. Robert has represented many of my family and friends. Each and every one has raved about Robert’s professionalism and expertise. He is knowledgable, friendly and truly cares about his clients. I would not hesitate to continue to refer Robert and his firm in the future!
  • I’ve known Robert for most of my life, and feel very fortunate that I have been able to turn to a good friend for various kinds of legal advice. He is very intelligent, straight forward, and professional. Most importantly though, Robert always finds the fastest resolution, and will not waste your time or money. He is NOT in the habit of dragging things through litigation if there is no need for the added expense. I have referred a few of my friends to Robert, and they have all been more than satisfied in their experience with him. Highly recommend!!



divorce questions answered



Long Island Divorce Guide

* indicates required


Robert E. Hornberger, Esq., P.C. respects your right to privacy. We will never sell your information to any third party. Follow this link to read our full privacy policy.


Child Support & Spousal Maintenance Tools
Spousal Maintenance Calculator
Child Support Calculator

Pin It on Pinterest