What Can I Do if I Cannot Afford my Alimony Payments?
It is rare for an individual’s financial circumstances to stay the same for years and decades after his or her divorce. We all have our financial ups and downs. When your financial situation becomes difficult, it can make it hard to continue paying your alimony order.
Whatever you do, do not just stop making your alimony payments if you cannot afford them. Notify your lawyer of your difficulty making your payments so he or she can help you begin the process of modifying your alimony order. Failure to make your payments is contempt of court, which can lead to penalties like wage garnishment.
Petition to have your Alimony Order Modified
If you need to reduce your alimony obligation, file a petition to modify your alimony order with the court that created your original order.
When you modify your alimony order, you must show the court that you have a valid reason for seeking the modification. Demonstrating that you are facing severe financial hardship to the point of filing for bankruptcy is a valid reason for reducing your alimony obligation. Other valid reasons include:
- Involuntarily losing your job;
- Suffering an injury or an illness; and
- Becoming disabled.
Other valid reasons to modify an alimony order include your former spouse cohabitating with a new partner and a change to his or her financial status, like starting a new, higher paying job or winning the lottery.
When you demonstrate your need for the modification to the court, you must demonstrate that the changes to your financial situation are involuntary and permanent. A temporary illness or purposefully getting fired are not valid reasons to modify an alimony order.
Filing for Bankruptcy will Not Pause your Alimony Obligation
When you file for bankruptcy, the automatic stay goes into effect. This action halts all debt collection attempts your creditors make. However, the automatic stay does not halt your obligation to obligation to continue making alimony payments, nor does it halt your obligation to make child support payments if you have a child support order. This is because the money you pay through alimony and child support is necessary to provide your former spouse and your children with their day-to-day necessities.
If you file for bankruptcy, the bankruptcy can make it easier for you to get caught up on your delinquent alimony payments by enabling you to prioritize them while the automatic stay is in place. You cannot discharge alimony debt through bankruptcy.
Work with an Experienced Orlando Divorce Lawyer
It is not uncommon for an alimony order to be part of a divorce settlement, nor is it uncommon for an alimony-paying spouse to face financial difficulties and have to modify his or her order to avoid financial hardship. If you are in this situation, work with an experienced Orlando divorce lawyer to modify your alimony order. Contact the Law Offices of Steve W. Marsee, P.A. today to set up your initial legal consultation in our office.