How to Avoid Paying Alimony

How to Avoid Paying AlimonyIn 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.

How Long Does Alimony Last?

How Long Does Alimony LastThe duration of alimony not only affects your financial planning, but your sense of financial security as well. After all, whether you’re the one paying alimony or the once that receives it, those payments will affect your expenses, income, and standard of living.

How Long Does Alimony Last in Short Marriages?

When deciding issues of divorce, the differences between a short and long marriage aren’t always black and white. There is no real strict line that divides the two. In fact, in some cases a marriage under 10 years may be considered a long-term marriage, while a marriage over 10 years may be treated like a short marriage. Because of these grey areas, let’s keep this article simple and look at a marriage of five-years.

Typically, in short-term marriages alimony lasts for one half the duration of the entire marriage. So, when considering a five-year marriage, alimony should last about 2 1/2 years.

However, it is vital to remember that that rule does not always apply. Will alimony for every five-year marriage last 2 1/2 years? No. The length of your marriage is only one consideration when determining the duration of alimony.

How Long Does Alimony Last for Marriages Over 10 Years?

For the following example, let’s just assume that you have a 20 year marriage, and that it will be treated as a long-term one.

In most cases of the example given above, alimony will last without any specific end date. Furthermore, the court will order alimony payments until either spouse dies, the spouse who receives the payments remarries, or the court orders the payments to stop. Basically, whichever comes first.

The above is what is known as a “further order of the court”. That specific phrase keeps alimony payments continuing, however, there is a also a lot of confusion surrounding it. When such an order is given, spouses assume that the order will never change. But, that is not true. Unless both spouses agree to an order of alimony that is unmodifiable, your alimony order is modifiable. Even in a long-term marriage, like 20 years in our above example, alimony can be modified on a future date.

A modification of alimony can be a termination of alimony, downward modification, or even an upward modification in certain situations.

Can You Agree to End Alimony in a Long-Term Marriage?

Yes, of course. Both you and your spouse can agree to have the court terminate alimony payments in a long-term marriage. The same also goes for short-term marriages. You and your spouse have the right and power to make it stop.

What If Neither Spouse Wants Alimony Right Now?

Sometimes, spouses may agree to a zero alimony order, also known as a “reserved” alimony order. This type of order means that while neither spouse wants alimony now, they also don’t want to terminate alimony altogether. The most common situation for such an order is when both spouses make about the same income and neither has the ability or need to pay the other alimony.

Since you cannot predict the future, it is never advisable to outright terminate alimony. A loss of job, serious illness, or other factors may lead to a need for alimony. Life is never predictable.

How Long Does Alimony Last? A Divorce Lawyer Can Help

Our experienced family law attorneys have handled many alimony cases, and can help determine how long alimony will last in your situation. Contact us today at the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks.

Holiday Visitation for Non-Custodial Parent

Holiday Visitation for Non-Custodial ParentDuring divorce, when one parent is awarded physical child custody, the other parent is typically given visitation rights. However, child visitation rights are not an automatic right — they’re considered a privilege. Once established, it’s vital that you stick to the parenting plan and visitation schedule, even during major holidays. While the holiday season may seem like a situation where you should spend more time with your children, your visitation rights are the same no matter the season.

How Does the Court Establish Holiday Visitation for Non-Custodial Parents?

Visitation rights are established by either both parents or the court. Depending on the age of your child, the court can consider their wishes when creating custody and visitation plans. This is because visitation rights are not only important for the parent, but they’re also important for the child. In order to avoid conflict during the holidays, your visitation plan should also detail visitation during these times. That holiday plan can include:

  • What holidays the non-custodial parent will see or have the children
  • How the exchange will go down
  • Pickup and drop off locations and times
  • Length of visit

The court will order supervised visitation in cases where the child’s best interests would be better served during non-custodial parent visits that are supervised by another adult. If the court finds that contact by the non-custodial parent will harm the child physically or emotionally, then no visitation will be ordered.

Creating a Holiday Visitation Schedule

While you and your former spouse workout the visitation schedule, you’ll need to determine a plan for the holidays. These major holidays include the following:

  • Easter
  • Thanksgiving
  • Christmas
  • New Year’s
  • Hanukkah
  • Yom Kippur
  • Rosh Hashanah

Children typically spend Mother’s Day with the mother, and Father’s Day with the father. Another important holiday to plan out is the child’s birthday.

When creating a plan for holiday visitation it is important that you’re flexible and reasonable. If you and your former spouse cannot agree, then the court will create the plan for you. You should also be open to compromise. For instance, while you may have the children for Christmas this year, then your former spouse will get the children next Christmas. For holidays when you do not have the children for that particular day, then be open to celebrating with your children a few days before or after.

What Happens If Someone Interferes With Visitation?

Interfering with visitation, even during the holidays, never serves in the child’s best interests. This disruption in the established plan exposes the child to unwarranted change. Unfortunately, the holiday season often creates feelings of loneliness and depression for non-custodial parents. However, you should never act on those feelings and interfere with visitation. Such an interference can give the court grounds for a removal of visitation rights or for even a change in custody.

Refusing to Return the Child

One of the most common reasons for an interference in visitation is when a custodial parent refuses to give the child over for non-custodial parent visitation. Such an interference obviously hinders the child’s best interest because they are deprived a relationship with the non-custodial parent. If you’re a non-custodial parent and your spouse refuses to give you the children for visitation, consult your family law attorney now.

Supervised Holiday Visitation for Non-Custodial Parent

If supervised visitation is awarded to the non-custodial parent, then that right carries over to holidays as well. Keep in mind that the court will decide on when and where the visits will take place. During the visit, a counselor will watch and listen for any behavior that could injury the child’s well being. Even during the holidays, if a counselor sees any of these triggering behaviors, then the visit will end.

To Learn More About Holiday Visitation for Non-Custodial Parent Issues

We can help you with issues related to holiday visitation for non-custodial parent. To learn more, contact the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks today.

Dealing With Divorce During the Holidays: 3 Steps to a Happier Holiday Season

dealing with divorce during the holidaysHolidays that encourage spending time with friends and family can often emphasize how much your life has changed after divorce. And dealing with divorce during the holidays can be both sad and stressful. But making plans in advance for major holidays is a great way to develop coping strategies following your divorce.

If you were close to your former spouse’s family, and spent every significant holiday with them, then your first holiday away from them will likely be difficult. The same is true if your former spouse has sole custody of your children. Luckily, while your life may not be exactly where you want, there are steps you can take to ensure that you have a happier holiday. Below are three steps to dealing with divorce during the holidays.

1. Start Planning as Soon as Possible

Do not wait until a week or two before the holidays to start making plans. This is especially true if you have children. Communicate with your former spouse in advance in regards to who will get the children for the holidays. Also, if your children are of age, then get them involved in the decision-making process. Be fair and reasonable when deciding the parenting schedule — generosity often breeds generosity.

While you may have your heart set on spending time with your children on a particular day, you must be open to compromise. For example, if you don’t have your children on Christmas day this year, then you get them for that day next year. Plus, you can still have a happy Christmas celebration with you children a day or two before or after the actual day. The key to avoiding stress while planning out your holidays during divorce proceedings is to plan well in advance and be flexible.

2. Change Your Holiday Expectations

Society as a whole often puts certain pressures on holidays. For instance, Christmas brings with it the feeling that you must spend time with your friends or family. These expectations can be extremely difficult if the people you most often spent time with during the holidays were closely tied to your former spouse. While you may feel depressed or lonely because you can no longer meet your old expectations of these holidays, it’s important to remember that these expectations are not set in stone and can be changed.

If you start to feel alone on a particular holiday, find some sort of distraction. For example, book a day at a spa, go catch a movie at your local theater, or even just relax in the bath with a good book. The holidays are also a great time to reconnect with people from your past. Dust off your old phone book and grab lunch with an old friend. If you start to miss your children, in today’s technological age, you can still connect with them via text, email, Skype, or even just a phone call.

3. Create New Holiday Traditions

Holidays are often weighed down in tradition. Unfortunately, divorce often disrupts these traditions. If you’re used to doing the same thing over and over again on a particular day, it may seem hard to change. However, it is possible to create new traditions. If you’re newly singly without children, or without custodial access, then create a holiday tradition that you want to do. Recognize your limits and work within those limits to develop a new tradition that makes you happy. If you keep these traditions up long enough, then they’ll feel just as right as your previous traditions.

Learn More About Dealing With Divorce During the Holidays

Your divorce attorney can help you in dealing with divorce during the holidays, as well as dealing with custody and visitation issues. Contact the Law Office of Rick D. Banks today.