What if I Can’t Afford to Pay Alimony?

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If you were the higher-earning spouse in your separation or divorce you may have been paying court-ordered alimony to your ex since then. But what happens if you can no longer afford the required alimony payments? If you need a modification for your divorce agreement and spousal support payments, contact a Suffolk County alimony lawyer to discuss your rights and options.

What is Alimony?

Alimony is a payment that one spouse makes to the other after a divorce or separation. Also known as spousal support, alimony typically comes in the form of a monthly payment from the higher-earning spouse to the lower-earning spouse. Alimony can be required for a number of reasons, typically to offset the lower-earning spouse’s inability to financially support themselves or so they can maintain the lifestyle that the couple grew accustomed to throughout the duration of their marriage.

How is Alimony Calculated?

During litigation, alimony is calculated by a court and is based on several factors. The goal of an alimony calculation is to reach a number that is most fair to both parties involved. Some factors that a court will examine when making their calculation include:

  • The income of both spouses
  • The age of both spouses
  • The earning potential of both spouses
  • The standard of living during their marriage
  • How long the marriage lasted
  • If they have any children and their ages

There are generally two ways a court will make their calculation, one for couples with children and one for couples without children. Alimony will typically be based on a percentage of the higher-earning spouse’s income.

If I Can’t Afford My Alimony Payments What Should I Do?

Because courts consider a multitude of factors when determining how much spousal support payments will be, if you have provided accurate financial records then the payments should be well within your means. However, there may be a scenario where a mistake was made or your circumstances have changed. If you lost your job, took a major pay cut, or have new financial obligations such as a new spouse or child, you may no longer be able to afford the agreed-upon alimony payments. Additionally, your ex-spouse may have gotten a new job or promotion or gotten married since your divorce and now has access to more financial security.

In any of these cases, you can petition the court to decrease or eliminate your spousal support payments. You will have to present the court with updated and accurate financial records and request that your ex provide the court with their current financial status as well. Based on new evidence a court can reevaluate and recalculate your payments. If you truly cannot afford them they may decrease the amount or frequency of your payments, and if your spouse does not technically require the spousal support anymore they may even terminate your financial responsibility to them.

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