Want to avoid paying alimony?
Alimony has the potential to cause significant financial strain on your newly single income and monthly budget. Many individuals may begin to devise clever schemes, in order to avoid the inevitable drain that alimony can mean on their finances. However, it is essential to go about things in the most ethical ways possible. Then you can avoid legal ramifications that result from avoiding your obligation to your soon-to-be ex.
How can you legally avoid handing tons of cash over to your spouse each month?
These 9 tactics will help you keep more money in your wallet each month:
1. Avoid paying alimony in the first place.
The best way to get out of making alimony payments to your spouse is to avoid the need to make them in the first place. Many couples choose to protect themselves from this possibility by drafting a prenuptial agreement before the marriage is finalized.
This situation includes a full disclosure of the income, including assets that each spouse will bring to the union. Therefore, it helps to separate marital property. The document should be prepared by an attorney, and approved by a judge before the marriage.
However, if you missed out on the opportunity to draft a prenuptial agreement, all is not lost. You can create a similar document after the wedding is over. These postnuptial agreements contain most of the same basic information, but are completed and approved after the marriage is finalized.
Divorce may already be on the horizon, which would render these two steps relatively useless. Instead, you can consider creative ways to satisfy your spouse without the need for alimony payments. During settlement negotiations, you can try to offer different arrangements, such as a larger share of marital assets, a larger percentage of retirement accounts or savings accounts, or possibly even the marital home.
These accommodations may satisfy your spouse, and prevent them from pursuing alimony payments. If you maintain open communication about your spouse’s demands and desires, you will have an essential prerequisite for making this expert tactic work effectively. You may need the assistance of an objective mediator or skilled divorce attorney, in order to help you negotiate a settlement that is fair and that helps you avoid paying alimony.
2. Try to prove that your spouse was unfaithful.
The laws regarding alimony payments vary from state to state, but many do not allow unfaithful spouses to petition the court for alimony payments. Unfortunately, this situation will require more than just a statement that your spouse was actively involved in a relationship with someone else during your time as husband and wife.
In order to prove that your spouse committed adultery, you must bear the burden of proof, which could involve showing a judge photographs and videos. Therefore, you need to collect witness statements or any other type of incriminating evidence that shows—beyond the shadow of a doubt—that your spouse was having an affair.
The judge will ultimately issue the final decision about whether or not your evidence counts as sufficient proof to support the notion of adultery within your marriage, as well as how this fact will affect any potential alimony payments.
3. Make some major lifestyle changes.
Rarely, the higher-earning spouse will be awarded alimony payments, so it may be a good time to evaluate how much money you truly need each month to cover your living expenses. If you regularly earn more than your spouse, you are more likely to be the party responsible for alimony payments. Therefore, to avoid this monthly financial drain, many individuals consider whether or not they can afford to take a pay cut or low-paying position.
One way to cut back on your monthly expenses and avoid alimony payments is to downsize your income and learn to live a less extravagant lifestyle. If you go this route to avoid alimony, you will need careful financial planning and budgeting, in order to ensure that you can manage all obligations on a reduced income.
4. End your marriage as soon as possible.
While your state will provide the final determination for the amount of alimony that a spouse pays, there are many factors in the overall length of the marriage. Some states use this rule of thumb when making a final calculation: The longer the marriage is, the more likely it is that you could be faced with higher alimony payments.
If you can tell that your marriage is only destined for misery, it may be worthwhile to consider ending it as soon as you can. Stretching it out for decades could lead to pain and longer-lasting, costlier alimony payments.
5. Keep up with your spouse’s relationship status.
Some states will stop requiring alimony payments when the spouse receiving them begins living with a new significant other. This information may be listed in the fine print of your divorce decree (in the section about alimony payments).
A new marriage will also typically allow alimony payments to end, so be sure to keep tabs on your ex via social media or mutual friends, and be aware of when these life changes occur. Then your alimony payments will cease.
6. Have a judge evaluate your spouse’s ability to work.
Following a divorce, some spouses prefer to continue being homemakers or stay-at-home parents, even if the situation causes financial hardship or is not truly necessary. If your spouse has the education and skills to obtain a well-paying job, you can ask a judge to order a vocational evaluation. This objective assessment provides insight into what your spouse could potentially earn by taking a job in their field of expertise.
Even if a job is unavailable at the time you head to court, alimony could be ordered on a temporary basis. Temporary alimony is still preferable to payments that are issued long-term or indefinitely.
Your spouse may need some financial breathing room while they attempt to establish their own household and hunt for a well-paying position. Short-term payments can offer this cushion, especially if they took the time off to help you further your own career or care for children.
7. Prove that your spouse does not need the money.
Some vindictive spouses seek alimony payments, even if the money is not necessary to maintain their standard of living. Does your ex have access to a large sum of money that exclusively belongs to them (such as a trust fund, savings account, or inheritance)? Then despite the fact that they are unemployed, your ex may not need an alimony payment to make the transition to a single lifestyle.
Therefore, investigate whether or not your spouse has any assets in their name that would prevent them from qualifying for a potential alimony payment.
If you believe that your spouse has this kind of asset, you may need to hire a professional forensic accountant to help you track it down. If it means that you can avoid alimony payments, it is well worth the investment to hire a professional.
8. Your spouse may not receive alimony if they do not have custody.
If your spouse does not win sole custody of the children, they may not need the money from alimony payments. Caring for children significantly increases the cost of living. Taking away this financial responsibility could lower the money that is necessary to maintain your spouse’s standard of living. In other words, it may give your spouse a better opportunity to find firm financial footing on their own, without the aid of alimony payments.
Then your ex will not need the additional funds, but you will decrease your own ability to make alimony payments when caring for the children. You will face increased costs, in order to help cover their daily care, including daycare or childcare, transportation, education, clothing, and groceries. These necessary expenditures can substantially cut into your expendable income, which may eliminate your ability to pay alimony.
In fact, your spouse may even be ordered to make child support payments that will help cover the cost of the children’s routine care. You need to carefully consider whether you have the time and ability to be the sole caregiver for your children. This tactic should never be solely used to avoid paying alimony or receive child-support payments from your spouse.
9. Place an end date on alimony payments.
Alimony payments do not necessarily have to continue for the rest of your life. Therefore, you should consider requesting that a termination date be included in your agreement or divorce decree. This action will also remove the financial burden of returning to court at a later date, in order to terminate the payments.
End dates for shorter marriages are often equal to one-half the length of the union. Unfortunately, it is much more difficult to predict the alimony termination date on a longer marriage. You will need to consult an attorney to determine what would be reasonable, given the length and circumstances of your marriage.
Permanent alimony may still be ordered by the judge during your divorce finalization. However, it is typically issued when a spouse does not have the ability to become self-supporting due to extenuating circumstances, which could include issues involving your spouse’s age or a disability.
Avoiding Alimony Payments
There are a number of ethical and legal ways to avoid being ordered by a judge to pay alimony to your ex. In order to circumvent alimony payments, you may want to consider opting for one of these expert methods for lessening or avoiding alimony altogether, instead of trying risky tactics (such as impulsively quitting a job or filing for bankruptcy).
In order to keep that extra money in your pocket from month to month, you will need to be clever and willing to sacrifice some things. And in order to avoid alimony payments in the future, consider the changes you can make today.