Article written by Jackie Porter
The pressure of managing work family and home life all during the pandemic proved to be too much for many. Not to mention dealing with the financial struggles associated with employment insecurity. Also, figuring out how you will pay the bills during your separation. If you are an ex spouse with anagreementin place, tempted to just quit your job to potentially minimize the child and spousal obligations payable at this time… Think again. The same goes for spouses leaving their job. Those assuming this would increase the spousal and child support payments they could recieve.
There are important details you will need to consider. Details to determine whether it will be truly worth it to leave your job and forego a job search at this time. Read on to learn more about the financial and legal implications of leaving your job during a divorce separation, and what you need to know to move forward.
Losing Your Job is Often Outside of Your Control
Many people who held service-based positions, especially in travel and hospitality faced layoffs throughout the pandemic. Almost overnight they watched their employment prospects disappear. Forced to apply for government sponsored benefits. Did you recently separate and lose your job through no fault of your own (due to the covid crisis)? You still need to inform your legal representative and ex partner and about your current circumstances. You will also need to provide complete financial disclosure. Including any severance benefits you will receive as they will be taken into consideration to calculate your child support. You also want to keep in mind that you may not qualify for a reduction in support payments. (Until your severance period ends.)
Calculating Support Payments
Before leaving your job, consider how support payments are calculated. The courts look at several factors to determine child and spousal support payments including:
- Both spouses’ income levels before tax
- The ability of each spouse to provide for themselves financially
- The age and health of both parties
- How long they lived together
- Their earning capacity
Specifically for child support the courts use basic monthly support guidelines based on the number of children involved. As well as the age of the child, since childcare costs can vary depending on this. You should also be aware that even if you share custody, you may still be required to pay a larger share of support than your ex. Solely based on your income. Refer to Receiving and Paying Child support and Spousal Support What You Need to Know for more information.
You Must Take Steps change Financial Agreements Already in Place
This includes making an application to the court. So they are aware of the change in your application income or financial circumstances as soon as possible. You will want to keep in mind that family court has become increasingly backlogged during the pandemic and for the most part is only dealing with extraordinary family circumstances.
The other option is to negotiate with your spouse and their legal team. Come up with a temporary support agreement that addresses what support will look like while you are out of work. Also consider creating a temporary support agreement as this will go a long way toward cultivating family harmony now and in the future.
Could You Be Penalized for Being Intentionally Unemployed?
There is the expectation that you must take reasonable steps to find employment. Keep in mind your request to reduce support will likely be rejected. Especially if you are seen by the court as being unemployed on purpose. If you have capacity to work the court will frown upon your decision to quit your job. Typically, factors that may affect your ability to find work include, your health, your education, skills and work history. To avoid being considered intentionally unemployed, it is important to document all attempts to find work throughout your time of unemployment.
How Will You Handle Co Parenting with Your Ex?
Consider the impact of not addressing your decision to quit your job with your ex. How it may affect your ability to coparent. Will your ex be open to splitting custody if you are not being proactive on how you will share the financial responsibility of child or spousal care? How might this decision delay a settlement on assets created during the relationship? Is there a real risk that the courts may penalize your decision and you may find yourself still owing support payments that are now calculated with interest if your request is denied? Finally, how could leaving your job impact the relationship you have with your children… If there is a belief that the decision quit your job was intentional and compromised their basic needs?
Speak to Your Legal Representative
Sometimes the stress of separating from your partner can feel overwhelming. Especially when you are forced to confront sensitive emotional and financial issues to reach an agreement on spousal and child support. However, quitting your job may not make your circumstances any better. Speak to a lawyer to ensure you get a clear picture of how leaving your job could affect plans to separate so that you can carefully weigh your options.