Why Waiting Until The COVID-19 Crisis Passes To File For A Florida Divorce May Actually Harm You

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If you’re worried about having to pay alimony and have been holding off on filing for a Florida divorce, now might actually be a good time to file for divorce. Obviously, we’re all in this uncertain time with COVID-19 and a lot of people have already lost their jobs.

If you’re traditionally a high-income earner and you have either a stay-at-home spouse or a spouse who makes less money than you, then obviously you’re concerned if you file for divorce now, you may end up paying a substantial sum of money — money that you’re worried you may not have in the future as far as income.

However, that might be the wrong way of looking at things right now. Here’s why.

At trial, the court is going to be bound to order alimony by the parties’ economic circumstances at the time of the trial.

Alimony After A Drastic Financial Change

You may still have your job and be making the same amount of money that you’ve traditionally made. However, you’re hearing rumblings that you may be losing this job. Therefore, it may be the perfect time to file for the divorce. Because if you lose your job or take a pay cut, that’s going to dramatically impact the other side’s ability to collect alimony!

Of course, if you’re getting job offers or you’re not applying to other jobs and you’re what’s called voluntarily underemployed or unemployed, the court can impute your income. However, as long as you have been making good faith efforts to try to find employment, you’re going to be in a really strong position for the court to use your income at the date of the trial to determine your alimony payments. So, this is why it might be a perfect time for people who are making a substantial sum of money, especially those in Corporate America to file for divorce.

Long-Term Marriage

For example, you have a 20-year marriage and you have a financially needy spouse. Let’s say they are operating at a $5,000 per month deficit and you’re operating at a $5,000 per month surplus. Well, we look at need, we look at ability, and boom — we’re looking at probably $5,000 per month of alimony being paid. Since this is a long-term marriage, it’s entirely possible we’re talking about a permanent alimony award.

Now, let’s say you file for divorce with the above facts and you go to trial after having lost your job. You obviously no longer have that $5,000 surplus. You’re operating at a deficit yourself. Therefore, it’s inappropriate for the court to award anywhere near that $5,000 per month. As a matter of fact, if you’re operating at a deficit from your side, it’s inappropriate for the court to award anything other than a nominal alimony award — which is traditionally $1 per month, which the court just orders to retain jurisdiction if the economic circumstances improve.

Again, this is a good time for people who are at the risk of paying alimony to file for divorce and start moving forward.

How To Get Help

If you have any questions, you can contact Paul Knudsen, a Managing Partner and Family Law Attorney at Denmon Pearlman. His direct phone number is 727-873-0108, and his email is paul@denmonlaw.com

Denmon Pearlman is a St. Petersburg, Florida based law firm with offices throughout the Tampa Bay area.