Law Office of David L. Scott

Do I Still Have to Pay Alimony if I am Unemployed? 

No one looks forward to making alimony payments. Intentionally or unintentionally losing your job does not necessarily relieve you of paying your alimony. Ceasing payment of court-ordered alimony payments, even if you are unable to continue making them for a valid reason, such as a medical emergency or losing your job, can land you in serious trouble.You may even end up facing contempt charges if the court determines that you intentionally lost your job or stopped making payments.

Valid Reasons to Stop Paying Alimony

There are only three situations under Tennessee law where you can stop making alimony payments. These situations occur when your ex-spouse passes away or gets remarried. The court may terminate or reduce alimony if your ex-spouse, moves in with a new romantic partner or third person. Even in these situations, you must file a request to terminate or modify your alimony with the court before ceasing payment and the court must sign off on it. Another situation in which you can stop making payments is when you and your ex-spouse mutually agree to the termination and enter a court order accordingly.

What to Do if You Cannot Make Alimony Payments

If you are unable to make your current court-ordered alimony payments because you have lost your job and are unemployed, you must do your best to continue paying them while working out a solution with the court. It is a good idea to consult with an attorney so that they can help you navigate the court system. In most cases, an attorney will help you to file a petition to modify the existing court order, if you are paying a modifiable form of alimony, or terminate it. Alimony exists to help support the financially disadvantaged spouse following a divorce, so if circumstances have changed such that your ex-spouse is now actually better off financially than you, you may be able to receive a termination of the support order from the court.

Additionally, alimony payments are calculated based on the amount of income that you were earning at the time of the divorce. If your income has now changed substantially, such that the alimony amount would have been materially different, this can provide grounds for the court to alter the amount that you owe.

It is also important to note that if your situation appears to be temporary, you will be unlikely to get relief from the court. You should be able to show that your situation is unlikely to quickly resolve itself, such as by demonstrating significant effort to get another job. If you are unsure whether you have a strong case for termination or modification of an existing alimony or spousal support order, the best thing that you can do is consult with a divorce attorney.

Schedule a Consultation With the Law Office of David L. Scott in Murfreesboro, TN

If you need relief from an existing alimony order, contact the Law Office of David L. Scott today and schedule a consultation to find out how we can help.

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Our focus is on helping you get through your legal troubles. With more than 25 years of experience, we are committed to getting the best legal outcome for you. Contact today for a free case evaluation. We look forward to hearing from you!