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What may happen if a spouse loses a job during divorce

A person in Pennsylvania who is going through a divorce might be concerned if a higher-paid spouse loses a job during the process. The lower-earning spouse might be worried about whether the spouse can continue paying support during this time or even worried if the spouse is being entirely truthful about the circumstances around the job loss.

For example, a person who works for friends or family members might actually use a "layoff" as an excuse to try to pay less in support. However, if a person attempts to become underemployed as a way to reduce or avoid support payments, courts usually do not look favorably upon this. They may calculate a person's support obligations based on salary history. Courts may also take different approaches to a job loss depending on the circumstances. For example, they might be lenient if the loss is due to a legitimate layoff versus misconduct.

There are several steps lower-earning spouses can take to protect themselves in this situation. They may want to collect any press information about the company's layoffs. They should also find out what kind of severance package the spouse received. The couple might be able to reach an agreement in which the support-paying spouse pays a lower amount while looking for a job and more once employed again.

People should be aware that child support is negotiated separately from spousal support. For example, the higher-earning spouse might agree to allow the lower-earning spouse a largest portion of the marital property in exchange for paying less support, but this will not reduce the amount of child support owed. The idea behind child support is to allow children to live at roughly the same level they enjoyed while their parents were married. A parent who cannot maintain child support payments after a job loss may request a modification.

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