Loss of Job

In an interesting unreported Appellate Division decision released on May 20, 2009, in the case of Williams v. Williams the appellate court affirmed a finding by the trial court that the former husband had not shown a change of circumstances and therefore was not entitled to eliminate his alimony obligation.  The case is also a primer of what not to do when seeking a reduction.

In this case, the husband was a long time employee at JP Morgan Chase making $185,000 per year.  His alimony obligation was $1,000 per month.  When he lost his job in August 2006, he immediately stopped paying alimony despite receiving one year of severance pay.

The husband asserted that he had tried but failed to find comparable work.  The opinion was not clear but given the final outcome, one can surmise that overwhelming proof of an unsuccessful job search was not supplied to the Court.  The husband further alleged that he had attempted unsuccessfully to establish a consultant business focusing on information technology. He claimed, however, that the only employment he could obtain was a position in a florist shop. It was not disputed that the florist shop was operated by his girlfriend.  Though the issue was ultimately decided for other reasons, these facts could also lead to a conclusion the he had not made an initial showing of a change of circumstances.Continue Reading Loss of Job – Another Day Another Decision

Though we have blogged about this issue in the past, as it is particularly topical given the article in today’s NJ Biz that New Jersey area (including the New York Metropolitan area) job losses are outpacing the national addresses. 

As noted on prior job posts. the standard for modifying support is that there has to be a substantial and continuing change of circumstances.  Moreover, in order to get relief, you must document your job search efforts to show the court that you have made a good faith effort to find a new job.

When a client loses their job, the following things should be done:

  1. Retain all documentation from the employer showing that the job loss was involuntary.  If there is a severance agreement and any other documentation, that should be maintained as well as the final paycheck showing the severance received (if paid in a lump sum).
  2. Keep a detailed log of all efforts made to find new employment with as much information as possible (who you contacted, when you contacted them, what they said, etc.)  If the communications were in writing, keep copies of all emails, resume’s, cover letters, rejection letters, if you applied for a job on lie (i.e. Monster.com), confirmation that you applied for work.
  3. If the problem is industry wide, any newspaper, trade or other articles or documentation showing that the industry has contracted or is having problems.

The question arises regarding what you do when offered a job that is not consistent with your prior earnings.  If you have been out or work for a short time, this creates a tough decision about whether to take this job or wait.  If you do take this job, my suggestion early after losing a job, my suggestion would be to continue your job search if at all possible.

If you have been out or work for some time and you have made a good faith job search, while possible, I find it hard to believe that a court would penalize someone for taking work – especially in this economy.Continue Reading What To Do When You Lose Your Job