Going through a divorce is almost always a sticky situation, but when one of the people is unemployed there is a new element to consider. Being unemployed, especially when it is not by choice, plays an especially big impact on men who see increased divorce rates for those who began their marriage since 1976.
When these men are fathers, many worry how their unemployment status may affect their parenting time and/or and child support they might be required to pay or would receive from their spouse. Whether or not your unemployment will play a role in your divorce or custody agreement depends on a variety of factors.
Your earnings historically
Whether it is the husband or wife who has become unemployed shortly before the divorce, the court is likely to look at the larger picture. One of the aspects of the “best interest” of the child aspect of the divorce is that the child be able to have the same level of financial stability as they would have if their parents had stayed together. If you’ve been making $80,000 per year, and your spouse is making half of that, it is likely that the judge will consider that you are capable of making a similar salary. Child support payments can also be deducted from unemployment benefits.
Your efforts to obtain full time employment
If losing your job has led you to sitting on the couch in your pajamas all day watching game shows or playing the latest version of Halo on your gaming console, it’s unlikely to say much for your character, even if you invite the kids to watch or play with you. If the agreed upon dynamic of the home is to have two people working full time, most often it is expected that you strive to return to this reality as soon as possible.
Why you are unemployed
The court will look at your unemployment differently if you were let go due to company cutbacks versus if you were terminated for unethical behavior or substance abuse issues. Normally, being unemployed against your wishes through no fault of your own won’t make the court see you as less of a parent. If you are unemployed because you and your spouse had made an agreement that you were going to be a stay at home parent, that also is unlikely to work against you.
Your relationship with your kids
Having a strong relationship with your kids, is one of the best ways to get more parenting time with them. While economic stability matters, it is not likely to make or break your ability to share in custody arrangements.
Child support and parenting plans
When child support agreements and parenting plans are negotiated, plans are made according to what is “normal” for your household. If your income is reduced due to being unemployed, you may be able to request a temporary reduction in child support obligations, or in some cases you may even receive child support or spousal support as you look for work. It is important to fully discuss your employment plan and wishes with your divorce attorney. With the right legal support, you can work with mediators and your spouse to come up with a viable post-divorce plan.