The already complex process of divorce can be further complicated for people in Illinois if one of them loses a job. This can have implications for child and spousal support payments whether it is the lower- or the higher-earning spouse who loses a job.

In the former case, the higher-earning spouse might need to pay more in support until the lower-earning spouse finds a new job. In the latter case, the support-paying spouse may be permitted to pay less until they find a new job. However, there are a few caveats around this. If the person loses the job because of misconduct, the court may be less sympathetic. It might also raise suspicion if the support-paying spouse is laid off from a job with a family or friend’s business since this could actually be an effort to avoid paying more in support. Another consideration may be whether or not there is a severance package.

A higher-earning spouse should not expect to take a job that pays substantially less and have support amounts be based on the salary from the lower-paying job. A court will often base support payments on a person’s potential earnings based on job history. In some cases, a couple may want to create an agreement in which a spouse temporarily pays a lower amount that increases upon getting a job.

A person might also lose a job after a divorce is final. If this happens to someone who is paying child or spousal support, that person may go to court and ask for a modification based on a change in circumstances. It is important to do this promptly since a modification is not retroactive. This means that the person will still owe the same amount until the modification is approved and will be required to pay any back support.