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Lost Your Job? Can You Reduce Your Child Support or Alimony Payments?

by | Jan 22, 2019 | child custody and support, divorce, Family Law Attorney, Family Law Lawyer, marital property, News and Events, spousal support

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.

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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.

Call now for a free consultation to discover how we can assist you with the modification of your child support or alimony payments at 631-923-1910.

See this page for Your Guide to Preparing for a Contested Divorce.

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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!!



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