What Happens if I Can’t Afford To Pay Alimony?

Posted May 2nd, 2024.

Categories: Blog.

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When going through a divorce you may be overwhelmed with the amount of decisions that need to be made such as how property and assets will be distributed, how child custody will be split, and if either spouse must pay alimony to the other. Not every couple will need to have an alimony agreement, but it can be beneficial depending on the specifics of your relationship. If you were ordered to pay alimony to your ex but can’t afford it anymore, contact family lawyer Mark S. Guralnick for assistance in requesting a modification of your payment plan.

What is Alimony?

Alimony is a financial payment that one spouse makes to the other in the event of a divorce or separation. It is sometimes referred to as spousal support and the purpose of it is to ensure that the divorce does not significantly negatively impact either spouse’s quality of life or standard of living.

Not every divorce agreement will include alimony but it is sometimes necessary. For example, one spouse may have a very low earning capacity in the workforce compared to the other because of sacrifices they made for the family. Maybe one spouse delayed their education so they could work to support the other spouse while they got a higher degree. Or perhaps they gave up their career to stay home and raise their children. Alimony intends to make up for the gap in earning potential either for the rest of their lives or until they can financially support themselves.

How is Alimony Calculated?

Alimony is calculated only after reviewing extensive information from each party. The final alimony payment decision will come from a percentage of the higher-earning spouse’s salary. To calculate what percentage will be used a court will evaluate the following.

  • The income of each spouse
  • The earning potential of each spouse
  • The assets and debts of each spouse
  • The age and mental/physical health of each spouse
  • How many children, if any, are involved and their ages
  • The length of the marriage

What Should I Do if I Can’t Afford to Make Alimony Payments?

As discussed, alimony is only calculated after examining both parties’ financial situations at length, so the paying spouse should be able to afford to make their monthly payments. However, life throws curveballs at us all the time. Maybe you lost your job, took a pay cut, or acquired some new financial responsibility that prevents you from being able to afford your alimony payments.

If this is the case you should reach out to your lawyer. They will be well-versed in the specifics of alimony disputes and understand how to best protect you. You should collect new documentation of your updated financial status including paystubs, bank statements, etc. With the help of your attorney, you can petition the court for a modification. They will reevaluate both your and your ex-spouse’s current financial status to determine if the previous agreement is still fair or if it needs to be recalculated. Depending on your circumstances they may lower your monthly payments or lessen the frequency of the payments to help you be able to afford them. Never stop alimony payments on your own. Contact a trusted attorney today for skilled legal counsel.

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