It’s been a year of unprecedented hardship for many families. If you are one of the many people who has lost a job this year, then you may be concerned about how it will affect your alimony or child support orders.
If you have experienced a substantial and continuing change of financial circumstances and you are struggling to continue making your payments, let your ex-spouse know and immediately file a petition to modify your order. It is important that you file to modify right away, because your child support or spousal maintenance orders can only be modified back to the time of your filing or service of the petition to modify.
Filing a petition to modify does not necessarily mean another long litigation. File your petition to ensure that your modification will take place sooner than later, but then communicate with your ex and try to reach an agreement without going to court. While you may not come to a perfect agreement, you may be able to reach an agreement that you can both live with, and if not then the court will determine whether or not your orders should be modified and if so how much they should be modified.
Do not stop making payments. Those child support and spousal maintenance payments accrue interest if not paid on time and your ex-spouse could seek to hold you in contempt of court for violating the court orders. If you cannot afford to pay your entire payments, then pay what you can. That shows your good faith effort and reduces your arrearages.
If you need to seek a modification, start by reviewing your current child support or spousal maintenance orders. Those orders should have been based on both parties’ incomes (and other factors) at the time those orders were entered. You should evaluate whether you or your ex’s income has changed. If it is child support that you wish to modify, then consider whether the daycare costs, insurance premiums, or parenting time days have changed. If it is spousal maintenance that you wish to modify, then also consider whether your expenses (and possibly your ex’s expenses) have changed.
Be aware that unemployment benefits, worker’s compensation, and other assets can be considered in determining your obligation to pay child support or spousal maintenance. If you have lost a job, it will be important to show the court that you are actively searching for a new job and that you did not voluntarily terminate your employment.
If you need to modify your spousal maintenance (alimony) or child support orders, we can help. Give us a call today for a consultation.
Pangerl Law Firm P.L.L.C. focuses on divorce, child custody, mother’s and father’s rights, child support, and all other areas of family law, as well as personal injury claims. Our office is located in Deer Valley and serves the greater Phoenix area, including the communities of Scottsdale, Peoria, Glendale, Cave Creek, Avondale, Goodyear, Surprise, Mesa, Tempe, Anthem, New River, North Phoenix and Phoenix. For more information, call: 602-942-6200.