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COVID-19 and Spousal Maintenance: When You Can No Longer Pay

By Nottage and Ward on August 31, 2020

As COVID-19 continues to rage across the United States, millions of Americans have lost their jobs. Without a form of employment, many are having difficulty paying rent, groceries, and utilities. When you have the extra costs of spousal maintenance thrown on top of that, it can seem impossible to keep your head above water. You shouldn’t give up hope, however.

Lowering Payments

Following a divorce, you may have been ordered to or agreed to pay your former spouse support. This agreement ensures that your ex can live the lifestyle they were accustomed to before the separation. However, if your lifestyle has taken a drastic turn due to COVID-19 and sudden unemployment, sending the same amount every month may no longer be an option for you. At that point, you will want to lower your spousal maintenance payments. There are a couple of ways you can try and do this.

Speak to Your Former Spouse

If your relationship with your spouse isn’t too contentious, and you feel there is the chance they will listen and understand the difficulties you are facing, then having an honest conversation with your ex may be your best option. If your spouse agrees to lower the maintenance amount, then you can resolve the issue quickly and not have to get the court involved.

File for Modification

If there has been a substantial change in your financial circumstances, often evidenced by a loss of a job or a reduction in income, then you may be able to file a motion to ask the court to modify your support obligation to your former spouse. If the court determines that a modification is appropriate, the court can only make the modification effective as of the date you file your motion. Therefore, it is important to file a motion as soon as possible after your financial circumstances change.

Check-in Your Resources

Losing your job and living through a pandemic is going to take a toll on anyone. It may place you in a position where you feel that you are completely out of options and support. But that is not necessarily true. Look into the resources in your area to see who is willing to help. For example, being unemployed doesn’t mean income will stop coming in altogether. If you successfully file for unemployment, you will still receive a small amount of money to help pay for necessities. This program can help keep a roof over your head, as well as food on your table.

Many food pantries have been popping up, or are working extra hard, in the wake of the pandemic. Getting your food from a pantry can seriously cut down on your monthly costs. That way you can use whatever saving you have on rent or mortgage payments, ensuring that you do not become homeless.

There are many other organizations that are working with people who are struggling during this national crisis. You should never allow your hopelessness to keep you from reaching out to the resources you need most. Talk with your neighbors and find out how they are surviving. Look online for lists of resources and organizations that may prove valuable to you. But most importantly of all, reach out to a compassionate and skilled family law attorney who can provide you with the support you need.

An Attorney Can Help

When it comes to lowering spousal maintenance, your best resource will be an experienced attorney who can answer your questions and get the proper work done in a timely manner. If your modification request is taking too long, and your former spouse is refusing to cooperate with you, a Chicago divorce attorney can help you get your spousal maintenance lowered to an amount that you can afford. If you need a compassionate hand, call Nottage and Ward, LLP, at (312) 332-2915. We are here to offer our help.

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