My divorce (15 years marriage) was finalized about three months ago, but now I just got laid off. My ex makes about 10 times of what I was making. I received about half of the savings plus the house, but less spousal (short four years) and child support – not sufficient to pay my monthly living expenses, but was expected to use my savings to pay my expenses initially and then sell the house in a few years after the spousal support ends. But now I am in further, deeper deficit as I lost my job. How likely I’d get more support if I go to the court for modification? How long does the modification process take? How does the process look like? Do I need a lawyer? If so, how many hours may it take?
I am so sorry that you are having to contend with the pressure of recently losing a job while also adjusting to life changes following your divorce. This can certainly be very difficult. In my experience, I have noticed that Judges are often very hesitant to change the provisions of either separation / divorce agreements / stipulations when only a short window of time has passed. One of our local Judges routinely says "why change it when the ink hasn't even had a chance to dry?" There are also provisions of law and often times language included within agreements and stipulations that limit the circumstances under which modifications can be brought. Having said that, your situation could certainly present what we would describe as a substantial change in circumstances. An argument on your behalf that is built within the context of a substantial change in circumstance (the loss of your income) is likely the most prudent path forward. I would recommend consulting with an experienced attorney who can review your specific case and determine whether or not this is a viable option.
You need to directly consult with an experienced family law attorney who will amongest other things want to know: when did you lose your job? When did you know you were going to lose your job? Why did you lose your job? Did you receive a severance package? Did you receive unemployment benefits? What efforts have you made to become re-employed? Etc. He or she will be in the best position to advise you after reviewing all the relevant paperwork and obtaing all the relevant facts.
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Deep down inside, I doubt a Manhattan divorce judge will grant a motion for a modification of the support provisions in your judgment. This fact pattern seems to suggest you stipulated to the outcome of your divorce. This means you made a carefully crafted plan and entered it as an order of a court after due deliberation and disclosure of information from both sides to the case.
It is far more difficult to modify an agreement than an order of the court where the court did the deciding. This is a means of achieving 'judicial economy' in that the parties are not constantly running to court to make minor changes to orders. An agreement requires an unanticipated change of circumstances to modify that order and the loss of a job is never such an unforeseen change because we all get hired and fired in this great nation of ours.
This leads to my suggestion that you do not use the court to get help. A court will not help you. Just the lawyer's fee alone will break your bank and the outcome can take years and go against you. I sympathize with you for your plight and these days, there is really no one to turn to for help.
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