Can I Temporarily Reduce or Abate my Alimony Obligation?


Right now, as we all navigate through this COVID-19, or Coronavirus, pandemic, most of us are concerned about our financial security. For those who have an ongoing alimony obligation, this concern is even greater, as you are court ordered to provide some of your financial resources to another person outside of your home. If you have found yourself in an employment situation resulting in a reduced or terminated income, this concern can turn in to a grave situation if you are not able to obtain relief. So what can be done is the question that everyone is asking.

As you have probably heard or read, to modify a court order that establishes an alimony obligation, you must be able to prove that since that order was entered, there has been a substantial change in circumstances that is involuntary in nature, and permanent. This last component, the permanency, generally and hopefully does not apply to any reduction in income you have suffered as a result of COVID-19. However, this does NOT mean that you are without relief.

While you may not be able to file what is called a Supplemental Petition for Modification regarding alimony, you may be eligible to file a Motion to Abate Alimony Obligation, which stops your alimony obligation for a period of time, or a Motion for Temporary Relief, which can request a temporary adjustment or stay in the amount you pay for a period of time.

Both of these motions explain to the court that due to an involuntary unemployment which is temporary in nature (meaning under one year in length), you are no longer able to pay anything towards your alimony obligation. This motion requests that the Court temporarily stop your obligation, and that you not accrue an arrearage. This is possible, especially in times like this, when you have no control over your lack of employment. It is also beneficial to be able to show efforts that have been made to regain some type of employment, as opposed to no efforts whatsoever.

If you have questions about alimony or family law modifications, Robert Sparks Attorneys is available to help. Contact us to speak with a lawyer.