In order to avoid alimony payments that are either too much or too long, you must be diligent before the court gives the order. We cannot stress enough that you should NEVER violate a court order or lie about your income to the court. This article will detail lawful, preventive measures for avoiding unreasonable alimony payments.
How to Avoid Paying Alimony Through Settlement Negotiations
First, you must have an experienced family law attorney on your side. Your attorney should ideally limit their practice to family law. An inexperienced attorney will often use cookie-cutter approaches to settlement agreements that don’t always fit their clients situation. Furthermore, these same attorneys also lack the knowledge in family law that could greatly help your specific situation.
In addition, you must also consider other terms of your divorce when determining an amount of alimony. Never agree to an amount of alimony that you know you cannot afford after other agreement terms. For example, if you take on 100% of community debt, then you cannot reasonably be asked to pay alimony on top of that. Otherwise, you the financial hit would be too extreme.
When it comes to duration of alimony, consider writing a termination date for payments in your agreement. Typically, the duration should be half the length of the marriage. If you do not establish this date, then you risk future time and expenses for ending alimony after it reaches the half way point.
How to Avoid Paying Alimony If the Amount Is Beyond the Marital Standard of Living
With an experienced attorney, the spouse paying alimony should calculate an amount consistent to the marital standard of living. One big mistake often made by the higher earning spouse is to base alimony off their current income. It may not be consistent to the marital standard of living.
The spouse expecting alimony is not usually entitled to an amount based off of income increases after separation. For instance, if the higher earning spouse made $150,000 per year during the marriage, but now earns $250,000 after separation, the amount of alimony should be based off of the $150,000 income. As an alimony paying spouse, to ensure that you do not pay an amount beyond the marital standard of living, you must be diligent before the court order.
Avoid Paying Alimony to a Spouse Refusing to Work
If you’re in a situation where your spouse is capable of having gainful employment but refuses to work, then one option available to you is a vocational examination. Once ordered, the vocational examiner will evaluate your spouse’s earning ability and capacity to work. They will then report to the court whether your spouse can and should earn an income. If the examiner sets a number and the court agrees, the court may impute income to the spouse.
Avoid Paying Alimony to a Spouse That Wants It But Doesn’t Need It
The most common situation in which a spouse does not need alimony is when they have independent wealth separate from marital funds. If the spouse seeking alimony holds an inheritance or has other access to money to pay their expenses, then they have a lesser need for alimony.
In order to avoid paying alimony to spouse under the above circumstances, the court can use Family Code section 4320. This section requires courts to consider relevant circumstances. Never assume that analysis of alimony starts and ends with income.
Learn More About How to Avoid Paying Alimony
For more information about how to avoid paying alimony, contact the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks today.