empty wallet

When a couple decides to get divorced, it can be a drawn-out and emotional process. There is a wide array of important decisions that will need to be made including child custody, child support, the division of property, and alimony. Alimony, also referred to as spousal support, is a monetary payment that one spouse makes to the other after they are separated or divorced. The point of alimony is to allow the spouse to continue living comfortably if they have a lower earning capacity because of the circumstances of their relationship, for example, if they sacrificed their education or career for the benefit of their family. But what happens if you are ordered to pay alimony but can’t afford it?

Alimony is meant to be fair to both parties. If a higher-earning spouse has to pay court-ordered alimony but they find themselves struggling to make ends meet, they have some options. If you can no longer afford alimony payments or need representation during your divorce a York County, PA alimony attorney can help.

How is Alimony Calculated?

Alimony is calculated by a judge or court during your divorce. When you go to court to end your marriage you will be required to bring extensive documentation on various aspects of your life. This information will be crucial when deciding how to divide marital property, who gets custody of your children, and how much money will be paid in child support. A court will also use these documents to calculate alimony.

Alimony is based on a percentage of the higher-earning spouse’s income. The percentage is determined after evaluating a plethora of factors including the following.

  • Each spouse’s income
  • Each spouse’s earning capacity
  • Each spouse’s age
  • Each spouse’s mental and physical health
  • How long the marriage lasted
  • If the couple has any children together and their ages
  • The couple’s standard of living throughout their marriage

After examining the above subjects a court will determine the percentage of the higher-earning spouse’s income that should be subjected to spousal support payments.

What Should I Do if I Can’t Afford to Pay Alimony Anymore?

You may have been laid off, demoted, or gained a new responsibility that prevents you from being able to afford the full extent of your alimony payments. If you realize that you can no longer afford to make your payments the worst thing you could do is stop paying them without telling anyone. Alimony is a part of your divorce agreement which is a contract. To breach your contract by neglecting your spousal support responsibilities could result in harsh consequences.

If you can’t afford alimony the first thing you should do is contact your attorney. They will help you understand your situation and options, as well as your rights. With the help of your lawyer, you can gather relevant information such as your new lower income or increased financial responsibilities, and petition the court for a modification. Once they have reevaluated your new financial status they may grant you a lower amount of alimony or a decrease in the frequency of your payments.