Job Loss During Divorce

December 12, 2022 | By Hillary J. Moonay

The signs of a looming recession seem to be everywhere lately.  As we head into 2023, this means concerns for many people about finances and job security.  While the unemployment rate is still currently low that could quickly change if interest rates continue to increase.  So, if you are currently going through a divorce or considering one, how worried should you be about a potential loss of employment, and what do you need to know?

1. Determine the reason for the job loss. 

Was the job loss due to staff reductions or was there some misconduct on the part of the employee?  If the job loss is the result of a reduction in workforce, the employee will usually not be held responsible for his reduction in income.  While the employee will need to attempt to secure new employment, everyone understands that the search can take some time depending on the type of work.  If, however, the job loss is due to misconduct on the part of the employee, the person may still be held responsible for having income at the level he was previously earning.  For example, if your spouse is paying child support or alimony and loses their job due to individual wrongdoing, that person may be held to the same level of financial responsibility.

2. If you lose your job, keep detailed records of your job search. 

One of the factors a court will consider when assessing income is the effort a party makes to secure new employment.  Make sure you have an updated resume and keep copies and a log of all job applications and the date that they are submitted.  You should also note any interviews that you’ve had or that are scheduled. 

3. Be realistic about employability.

If your spouse is the one that loses her job, be realistic about the type of job she may be able to obtain in the current job market.  For example, if she was working in an industry that has suffered widespread layoffs, you may need to be patient as she seeks other employment. While this may result in an adjustment to child and spousal support in the short term, once a new job is obtained support can be modified again.

 4. Try to find a job in your area of expertise.  

When a client loses a job, I am often asked if they should accept the first job they find or if they should continue seeking employment in their field.  At the beginning of the job search, I encourage employees to seek employment in the same industry and at the same pay range as their previous employment.  However, as the search continues, there may come a time when the person needs to consider other opportunities. 

5. Consider other current sources of income. 

While someone may have lost their job during a divorce there may still be income that can be considered for support purposes.  For example, did the employee receive a severance package as part of their termination?  Was there a medical event that caused the job loss?  If so, is there any type of disability payments that the employee is now receiving? In Pennsylvania, these types of income will be considered for support purposes so it will be helpful to know if they exist.

If you or your spouse loses a job during a divorce matter, contact your attorney to determine the best way to proceed.

The information contained in this publication should not be construed as legal advice, is not a substitute for legal counsel, and should not be relied on as such. For legal advice or answers to specific questions, please contact one of our attorneys. 

About the Authors

Hillary J. Moonay


Doylestown Divorce Attorney Hillary co-chairs Obermayer’s Family Law Group. She focuses her practice exclusively in the area of family law, where she handles all phases of the negotiation and litigation of domestic...

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