Lost Your Job? Can You Reduce Your Child Support or Alimony Payments?
Once you’ve been ordered to pay child support or alimony by a Long Island court, there are very few circumstances in which you can stop or even lower your payments. One of these is if you lose your job. However, this does not mean that as soon as you lose your job that you can simply stop making child support or alimony payments — doing so could cause you a great deal of trouble. Here’s what you should do if you’re making child support or alimony payments on Long Island and lose your job or receive a reduction in salary.
Contact a Long Island Divorce Attorney to Get Your Payments Modified
Child support and alimony payments can be modified if circumstances have changed. Job loss would certainly count as a change of circumstance, as would receiving a significant loss of income. Essentially what will need to be done is the court will need to recalculate what you can reasonably pay using your new income. If your new income is zero because you don’t have a job, it’s possible that your child support or alimony will be reduced significantly or even paused while you look for a new job.
You may need to show the court that your income is likely to be reduced for a reasonable period of time and that you are actively looking for employment. For example, if you have a new job by the time your court date arrives, it’s unlikely that you will receive a significant reduction in your child support or alimony responsibility. Your payments will be recalculated based on your new income, which may be more or less depending on how much you’re earning in your new job. However, if you are able to show the court that you have made a reasonable effort to find employment and are still unemployed, the court could make a decision to lower or pause your payments temporarily.
Once you do get another job, you will need to notify the courts right away. It may be tempting to wait and enjoy the extra money for a little while, but the court will calculate the child support you owe based on the date you became employed and you will be required to pay any back support. The court may also require you to make up for the time that you missed while you were unemployed, so long as the payment is still considered within your means and ability to pay it given your new income.
What Happens If I Just Stop Paying Child Support or Alimony?
Even if your job loss comes suddenly and you cannot afford to make your next payment, you should never stop paying child support or alimony without contacting a lawyer or the court to let them know what happened. If you simply stop paying, you could be held in contempt of court, which may result in penalties such as fines or even jail time — all of which you can avoid by simply communicating with the court.
If you lose your job suddenly, it may mean that you need to contact the court or a lawyer very quickly, however, this is preferable to missing a payment without the court knowing beforehand that you’ve lost your job. It won’t matter that you lost your job if the court has to come looking for you for payments — you’ve still violated the divorce or custody agreement and can still be held in contempt of court.
Check out our Divorce Guide for Dads for more information about divorce issues specifically related to fathers.
Contact a Long Island Divorce Law Firm for Help
Paying child support and/or alimony can be burdensome, even when you are making plenty of money. Losing your job and seeing those payments looming ahead of you can be nerve wracking. At our Long Island divorce law firm, we can help you get your payments modified the right way, so you can avoid penalties and show the court that you believe making your payments is important, but you simply aren’t able to with a reduced or eliminated income.
See this page for Your Guide to Preparing for a Contested Divorce.
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