Life doesn’t stop while you’re going through a divorce. Unfortunately, if any changes to your career happen while you’re in the middle of getting a divorce, it could have a significant impact on the outcome of your divorce. Some people choose to change their career during divorce or even go back to school to train for a new career. While these decisions could be the right thing in the long run, the timing of the change may impact your divorce in ways you may not be able to anticipate. If you are thinking about making a significant career change during your divorce, you will need to speak to your Massachusetts Divorce Attorney. Some people choose to postpone making decisions until after their divorce is finalized, but every situation is different. Consulting with your attorney and considering your options will help you decide what the right decision is for you.
Why Does a Career Change Affect My Divorce?
When you are getting a divorce, both parties’ incomes are used as the basis for calculating child support and alimony obligations. If you take a higher paying job this could affect the amount of child support or spousal support/alimony the court thinks you should receive, or it could affect the amount you are expected to pay.
People getting a divorce are often blindsided by the way the court looks at income. People tell me all the time that if they have to pay too much support they will just quit their jobs. This is not a viable option. For the purposes of alimony or child support the court is not limited by how much you actually earn. If the Court believes you are not living up to your earning potential a judge can attribute or impute income to you at the level you were previously earning or at the level the Court believes you are capable of earning, which means support could be calculated using a much higher income than you are actually earning, essentially forcing you to deplete assets or obtain higher paying employment.
Can My Divorce Be Affected Even If I am Studying and Not Yet Employed?
Similarly, if you are studying for a degree that could lead to a higher earning career, or if you are training for a different career, this could affect your divorce. The value of educational degrees is a complex topic in divorce. Professional degrees are not considered a marital asset in a Massachusetts divorce, but they can affect the “equitable division” of property in divorce, and they can affect the estimated or imputed ability to pay alimony and child support. Equitable division is property division that isn’t exactly equal (50/50) but fair. When someone studies for a degree that will likely lead to a higher paying job, their spouse could get more in the divorce settlement. This is especially true if one spouse supported the other while they were studying for a professional degree such as a medical degree that can eventually lead to a high paying job. The Massachusetts divorce court will find a way to make this fair for the spouse who didn’t pursue the degree but helped to support their spouse. In some cases one spouse could get “reimbursement alimony,” particularly if they sacrificed their own time, money and career prospects.
What If I Get a Promotion or Bonus?
Most Courts will divide assets and determine support based on the situation existing at the time of divorce. If you deposit your bonus income into a savings account that account could be divided as part of the division of marital assets. Also, if you receive a promotion or bonus while your case is pending it can be considered as part of your income. If this bonus or promotion is significant it can impact what level your future alimony obligations are capped at in the future.
What If I Lose My Job Or Quit My Job?
You might think that if you lose your job it’s out of your hands, and it won’t affect your divorce. If you lose your job, especially if it’s a result of misconduct or poor behavior, your earning potential could still be considered part of what you owe your spouse in your divorce. If you quit your job during divorce and take a lower paying job, often your former income is what is calculated to decide what you owe your spouse.
When making big life changes such as changing a career during your divorce, it’s important to speak to your Massachusetts divorce attorney about the decision and get advice about whether it will be in your best interests and what to expect in your divorce.