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How Unemployment Affects Spouses Ability to Pay Alimony

In certain divorce situations, a judge may assign one spouse or another to pay alimony to the other spouse in order to help that person get back on their feet financially. It is important to realize that there are many factors involved in this arrangement, making it especially important for the spouse receiving alimony to become financially independent of the alimony payment whenever possible. 

One of these factors is the ability for the spouse to pay alimony. Current income, employability, debts and lifestyle are all taken into consideration. When a spouse paying alimony is laid off, this can affect their ability to pay. With Rhode Island’s unemployment rate being the highest in New England at well over 6%, it is important to understand how unemployment can affect alimony here in Rhode Island.

If your ex-spouse has recently lost their job, they are still required to pay alimony. If they are unable to pay due to hardship, they may file for a modification to the alimony agreement. This may happen, so you should be prepared to protect yourself in the event that alimony is reduced or paused, even for a short period of time.

It is important to connect with your lawyer for advice specific to your situation, but there are things that you can do if this situation happens to you.

  • Get organized. Understand clearly where your alimony fits into your monthly budget. If you don’t receive it, what will go unpaid?
  • Would you consider a modification to the agreement? Perhaps a temporary halt to payments while your ex gets back on their feet? Understand your threshold so that you can put this in writing with your lawyers' help.
  • Do you have additional earning potential at work? Does it make sense to consider a temporary second job?

If you are concerned that unemployment may affect your alimony agreement, contact a lawyer to become informed and prepared.