With unemployment skyrocketing and wages being cut, examination of the factors for reducing divorce obligations is particularly relevant. In KROHN v. KROHN, NO. 2018-CA-01066-COA (Decided April 21, 2020) the Court reversed a Chancellor for not reducing a man’s alimony obligation of $2,000 a month where he lost a job paying $218,000 per year and was able, after a few months, to get a new job paying only $84,000 per year. The court quoted the following standards for review:
“When considering a party’s petition to modify or terminate an award of periodic alimony, a chancellor must first determine whether an unforeseeable and material change in circumstances occurred since entry of the initial divorce decree.” Easterling v. Easterling, 245 So. 3d 548, 551 (¶9) (Miss. Ct. App. 2018) (internal quotation mark omitted). “The change in circumstance must not be anticipated by the parties at the time of the original decree.” Id. (quoting Holcombe v. Holcombe, 813 So. 2d 700, 703 (¶11) (Miss. 2002)). “If no unforeseeable and material change has occurred, then a modification of the alimony award is improper.” Id. “Once a substantial unanticipated change has in fact occurred, the chancellor should then consider the Armstrong factors to determine the appropriate amount of alimony.” Id. at (¶10) (internal quotation mark omitted). “When analyzing these factors and ‘deciding whether to modify periodic alimony,’ chancellors should ‘compare the relative positions of the parties at the time of the request for modification in relation to their positions at the time of the divorce decree.’” Id. (quoting Steiner v. Steiner, 788 So. 2d 771, 776 (¶16) (Miss. 2001)). “Personal bills cannot be used as a factor to reduce support payments.” Hardin v. Grantham, 201 So. 3d 511, 515 (¶15) (Miss. Ct. App. 2016) (quoting Varner v. Varner, 666 So. 2d 493, 497 (Miss. 1995)).
The Armstrong factors that courts use to determine whether a spouse is entitled to alimony include: (1) the income and expenses of the parties; (2) the health and earning capacities of the parties; (3) the needs of each party; (4) the obligations and assets of each party; (5) the length of the marriage; (6) the presence or absence of minor children in the home, which may require that one or both of the parties either pay, or personally provide, child care; (7) the age of the parties; (8) the standard of living of the parties, both during the marriage and at the time of the support determination; (9) the tax consequences of the spousal order; (10) fault or misconduct; (11) wasteful dissipation of assets by either party; and (12) any other factor deemed by the court to be just and equitable in connection with the spousal support. Culumber v. Culumber, 261 So. 3d 1142, 1151 (¶29) (Miss. Ct. App. 2018) (quoting Larson v. Larson, 192 So. 3d 1137, 1142 (¶12) (Miss. Ct. App. 2016) (citing Armstrong v. Armstrong, 618 So. 2d 1278, 1280 (Miss. 1993))).