I am a federal employee who pays alimony and is being temporarily furloughed from my job.
My alimony calculation was based on my full salary, but my income will obviously be temporarily reduced due to furlough.
Should I ask for a temporary modification of my alimony payments as a result of an employment furlough?
I am unable to give you legal advice on divorce. I can give general divorce help for men, though, my knowledge is based on Pennsylvania alimony laws where I am licensed to practice.
Once an alimony award is entered, typically the courts will only modify that award based on a change in circumstances, unless, of course, the award was for non-modifiable alimony.
Unfortunately, although a reduction in income is considered a change in circumstance, the court will typically not modify the amount or duration of support if it appears that the change in circumstance is considered temporary. For example, there is case law in my state that holds that a 20-month reduction in income was only temporary therefore a reduction in alimony was not warranted.
However, if payment will become an issue for you, you should contact the enforcement unit and advise of the change in your circumstances to see if they would “stay” an enforcement proceeding against you until such time as your employment and income return to pre-furlough levels.
While arrears will still accrue on the original amount, if the enforcement department is willing to stay any enforcement proceeding, then this should mitigate any other actions against you, such as lack of payment being reported to credit agencies or incarceration for lack of payment.
However, please note this is completely within the discretion of the court so I cannot guarantee that enforcement will not be sough against you. Also, I would strongly suggest that if you are able, you continue to pay the alimony at the level awarded so you ensure that no enforcement proceedings are initiated.
Another alternative is to attempt to privately negotiate a temporary reduction in your alimony. If you and your ex-wife can come to a private agreement, a stipulation, preferably prepared by a family law attorney, can be submitted to the court encapsulating the terms of the temporary agreement.
Any stipulation modifying support must be filed with the court, otherwise, the original support or alimony order will continue to be in full force and effect and the court will not know that the terms have been modified between the parties.
Remember, I am unable to provide you with anything more than divorce tips for men, so please consult with divorce lawyers for men in your jurisdiction.