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What happens if you lose your job during a divorce?

You and your spouse are getting a divorce and have already begun the process when suddenly, one of you loses your job. How will this change in circumstances effect the proceedings? While every situation is different, there are certain things you can do help yourself during this challenging time.

Your income and your spouse's current incomes play an important role when it comes to determining spousal support and child support. For instance, a higher earning spouse may be expected to pay a certain amount each month to a lesser-earning spouse to provide them with financial support to help them get back on their feet after the divorce. Washington courts also will often enter your income and your spouse's income, as well as the child's expenses, into a formula to calculate how much child support is owed by the non-custodial parent each month.

If you lose your job during your divorce, you may argue that the amount you pay should not be based on the income you made before. However, the court may still hold you to that income level in certain situations (i.e. if you were fired due to your own misconduct). If you were laid off or let go for reasons beyond your control, the court may accommodate you, as long as you prove that you are working hard to search for a new position. The court wants to see that you are trying to find a job that has a similar salary to the job you just lost.

In cases where the lower-earning spouse loses their job, the courts may order the higher-earning spouse to temporarily pay more until the lower-earning spouse can find a new position, particularly if there are children involved. The court will do what it takes to make sure that the children do not lose the life they became accustomed to prior to the divorce.

Both you and your spouse will have to be realistic with your expectations when it comes to making payments. A person without a job will have a very difficult time making payments until they find a new job. During negotiations, you may be able to agree that the spouse who lost their job will start paying a certain percentage of their income once they have found a job.

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