What Do You Do If You Are Laid Off While Going Through a Divorce or Custody Case?
You just found out you will be laid off, down-sized, dismissed, or fired! What should you do about support???
Whether you are the high earner or the low earner, a layoff will affect your child support and spousal support (alimony). Here are some quick steps to consider.
Checklist of Evidence for Modification of Support Due to LayOffs:
- Get proof of when your actual last day will be.
- Get the details about any severance or replacement pay you will be receiving.
- You may be offered a Re-Training Program. If so, get the facts.
- Will you be eligible to receive early retirement, Disability, Social Security, or??? Get facts.
- Will you be offered re-location, final clean-up, etc? Get the details, in writing!
- If you are eligible, obtain details about when your unemployment will start/end, and save your unemployment paystubs. (Apply early - this money takes a few weeks to start!)
A simple letter to the other side should start off the process, and a quick offer to stipulate to new support numbers is often what should happen next. You will be required to prepare a new Income and Expense Declaration if you are asking for a change in support. Any and all of the above written evidence my be attached.
If no settlement can be reached within a few weeks, and a financial hardship is looming, the Judge will consider losing your job as a "change of circumstances." You are entitled to apply for new orders. You should file, or have your lawyer file, a Request for Orders (RFO) to change support. Remember to write a declaration about the facts, and attach all of your evidence so you can prove your case.
WARNING! Any pre-existing support order will continue in place until a new order or stipulated order replaces the old one. Although there are several exceptions, do not count on them without getting specific advice. You will pay or receive at the old rate until you change the order! Also remember, even if you cannot pay, any arrears will continue to grow until you get a new order. Do not be a 'Deadbeat Dad" or a "Mom Most Wanted" due to unpaid support.
If a company is closing its location, or going out of business, management may keep some employees on for final close-outs, may pay lump sums for many months of income to allow you to find new employment, or may offer to ship you out of town to a new plant. As a result, your income may not immediately go down, but you are still in danger of losing your job and/or your level of income. All of these situations have been litigated before. If you cannot solve these issues, seek competent legal help.
PROTECT YOURSELF AS THE PAYEE! As the lower income earner, if you lose your job, you may deserve more child support or spousal support -- get your proof to support your claim. Or, if the higher income earner asks to lower support, ask for proof of changed income before settling.On a related issue-- Watch your insurance policies - You do not want any pre-existing insurance for health, cars, life, etc., to suddenly lapse because of your layoff. If there will be a problem, best to solve it in advance because there are restraining orders in your case preventing change of insurance without a court order or stipulation. Address insurance issues quickly.
If you want lawyer help with these issues, contact Goldberg and Gille. We handle cases filed at courthouses located in Pasadena, Los Angeles, Van Nuys, Burbank (now moved to Pasadena) and San Fernando. Certified Family Law Specialist with full legal team. Special emphasis on hidden assets and high conflict custody issues.