In June 2020 the unemployment rate in Colorado increased to 10.5%. Uncertainty around COVID-19 has contributed to this spike in layoffs and furloughs. The longer this continues, the more Coloradans will ask "How will job loss affect my divorce mediation?"
If you were laid off due to no fault of your own, mediators may adjust child or spousal support, but only temporarily. However, if the job loss was one party's fault, mediators may require the amount that was agreed upon while they were employed.
If the spouse who lost their job due to COVID is the lower-paid spouse, mediators may suggest that the employed spouse pay more support until their ex spouse is re-employed. The intention is to try and ascertain that both spouses are able to meet BOTHtheir needs during the period of unemployment.
Once the spouse who earned more is hired again, they will be responsible to pay an agreed upon percentage of their earned income. In Colorado, the calculation results from a statute effective January 1, 2014. There can be a provision in your mediated agreement that when rehiring happens, the parties' agree to revisit the support piece of the divorce with a qualified mediator.
Our advice for spouses who are laid off is to treat finding a job as a full-time job. Job searches should focus on a similar job with a comparable salary to the one lost, if possible. This is not the time to “find yourself” or go back to school, unless retraining is required.
Finally, job loss during mediation is not a spouse’s Ace in the Hole when it comes to calculating support payments. The laid off spouse needs to be transparent about any severance or payout package or company stock options they hold.
At Divorce Resource Centre of Colorado, we understand how stressful job loss is and how it can impact your ability to support yourself, your ex spouse, and your children. All parties in a mediation agree to transparency and this creates a level of communication rarely seen during divorce.
If your employment situation changes during divorce mediation, we adjust agreements and address what happens when either spouse is employed again. Call us at 303-468-5626 to discuss your particular situation with a 20 minute complimentary consultation.