As stressful as a divorce is, it can become even more stressful for a person in Arizona after a job loss. If the person is the higher-earning spouse, there could be concerns about how to pay support.

The person should not take this as an opportunity to pursue a lower-paying job. Courts usually frown on what may appear to be an effort to avoid paying support by remaining underemployed, and judges may still base support amounts on a person’s salary history. A court may look more favorably on someone who is laid off compared to someone who is fired, but a layoff from a company owned by family or a friend could look as though the person is trying to avoid support payments. In a case like this, the person may need to document the reason for layoffs. The person might also want to show evidence of searching for another job, including sending out resumes and going to interviews.

Couples may be able to reach an agreement contingent on the higher-earning spouse finding employment. This agreement might name a percentage of income that the person will be paid. A generous severance package could also be included in property that will be divided in the divorce.

One option might be to offer more property in lieu of spousal support payments. However, people should keep in mind that this is a separate set of negotiations from child support payments, which are in place to benefit the child. A parent who cannot keep up with child support payments because of job loss or for some other reason may request a modification based on a change in circumstances. Until the modification is granted, the parent will continue to owe the same amount in support, so it is important to not procrastinate after being fired or laid off.