Do I Still Have to Pay Alimony if I am Unemployed?
If you have been laid off or unfairly fired from your job, or if you have stopped working because you became disabled, you can petition the court to modify your alimony order so that you can reduce the alimony amount or terminate your alimony obligations early.
Divorce puts stress on almost everyone’s finances, even in the cases where the court does not order either party to pay alimony. When the court does order alimony, though, the duration and amount of the alimony are almost never to the satisfaction of both spouses. The wealthier spouse usually thinks that they are paying too much money, and the financially dependent spouse usually thinks that they are not getting enough. In many cases, each ex-spouse accuses the other of not working hard enough to earn enough money. If the court has ordered you to pay alimony to your ex-spouse, but you have suffered financial setbacks, the Norcross alimony attorneys at Zimmerman & Associates can help you modify your alimony award.
How Do the Georgia Courts Decide How Much Alimony You Pay?
In deciding alimony, the courts will consider the needs of the party and the ability of the other party to pay. There is no law in Georgia outlining what calculations should be made to determine alimony payments, but the courts consider several factors including:
- The length of the marriage.
- The earning capacities of each spouse.
- Separate financial resources and debts.
- Contributions to the marriage (i.e. homemaking and childcare, education or career building).
- The standard of living during the marriage.
- The individual spouse’s ages.
- Physical and emotional conditions of each spouse.
- The amount of time needed to educate one or both spouses to increase job prospect and hire-ability.
There are three categories of alimony in Georgia:
- Recuperative or Rehabilitative alimony is awarded when one spouse has been out of the workforce during part or all the marriage, and alimony is awarded to allow the receiving spouse time to obtain an income of their own, either within a previous job field or through education and training to reenter the job market.
- Permanent alimony remains in effect until the death of either spouse, the recipient’s remarriage, or the recipient enters into a new live-in committed relationship. Permanent alimony is generally reserved for those of advanced years or those who are unable to enter the job market due to disability or inability to ever obtain meaningful employment.
- None is exactly what it sounds like. The court decides that neither spouse is eligible or in need of alimony.
How Can You Prove That You are Involuntarily Unemployed?
If the court has ordered you to pay spousal support, you can request a downward modification or early termination of your alimony obligation if you experience an involuntary reduction in income. Some reasons that a person might experience an involuntary reduction in income include, being laid off from a job through no fault of their own, becoming unable to work because of an illness or injury, or retiring upon reaching the usual retirement age. The court will not reduce your alimony obligations if you are voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, such as if you have joined the Great Resignation or are continuing to pursue a long shot business opportunity after it has thus far failed to become profitable. If the court determines that you are able to earn money but simply choose not to work, it will calculate your alimony obligation based on the amount that it determines that you reasonably should be earning.
Contact Zimmerman & Associates About Your Alimony Obligations in Atlanta After a Financial Setback
An Atlanta family law attorney can help you modify your alimony obligations, or even stop paying altogether, if you have lost your job. Contact Zimmerman & Associates in Norcross, Georgia to set up a consultation.