5 Expert Tactics to Avoid Paying Alimony

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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 to avoid the inevitable drain that alimony can mean on their finances. However, it is very important to go about things in the most ethical way possible. Then you can avoid legal ramifications from skirting your obligation to your soon-to-be ex.

How can you legally avoid handing tons of cash over to your spouse each month for alimony? These five expert tactics will help you keep more money in your own wallet each month:

1. Try to prove that your spouse was unfaithful.

The laws regarding alimony payments will 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 from you that your spouse was actively involved in a relationship with someone else during your time as husband and wife.

Proving adultery will require you to carry the burden of proof, which could mean showing photographs and videos. Therefore, you need to collect witness statements or any other type of incriminating evidence that shows that your spouse was having an affair beyond the shadow of a doubt. 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.

2. 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 to cover your living expenses each month. If you regularly earn more than your spouse, you are more likely to be the party responsible for alimony payments and financially helping your ex-partner. Therefore, in order to avoid the monthly financial drain of alimony, many individuals consider whether 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 downsizing your income and learning to live a less luxurious or extravagant lifestyle. If you go this route to avoid alimony, you will need careful financial planning and budgeting to ensure that you can manage all obligations on a reduced income.

3. End your marriage sooner rather than later.

While the state will provide the final determination for the amount of alimony a spouse pays, there are many factors in the overall length of the marriage. The longer the marriage is, the more likely you could be faced with higher alimony payments in states that use this rule of thumb in the final calculation of your alimony payments. If you can tell that your marriage is only destined for a future of misery, it may be worthwhile to consider ending it as soon as you can. Stretching it out for decades could lead to misery and longer-lasting, costlier alimony payments.

4. Keep up with your spouse’s new relationship status.

Some states will stop requiring alimony payments when the spouse receiving them begins to live with a new significant other or someone that they are romantically involved with. This information may be listed in the fine print of your divorce decree in the section pertaining to alimony payments. A new marriage will also typically allow alimony payments to end, so be sure to keep tabs on your ex through social media or mutual friends, and be aware of when these life changes occur. Then your alimony payments will cease.

5. Have a judge evaluate your spouse’s ability to work.

Following a divorce, some spouses would 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, training, or skills to obtain a well-paying job and make themselves financially comfortable, you can ask for a judge to order a vocational evaluation. This objective assessment provides insight about what your spouse could potentially earn with 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.

6. 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. Instead of trying risky tactics such as impulsively quitting a job or filing bankruptcy in order to circumvent alimony payments, you may want to consider opting for one of these expert methods for lessening or avoiding alimony altogether.

You will need to be clever and willing to sacrifice some things to keep that extra money in your pocket from month to month. In order to avoid alimony payments for the future, consider the changes you can make today.

Shawn Leamon, MBA, CDFA is the host of the “Divorce and Your Money Podcast” and Managing Partner of LaGrande Global, with offices in Dallas, New York and Hanover, New Hampshire.

Shawn Leamon, MBA, CDFA

Dallas, Texas

Shawn C. H. Leamon is Managing Partner of LaGrande Global, a firm that helps successful families manage large financial transitions like divorce, inheritance and selling a business.

He earned his Bachelor of Arts from Dartmouth College, double majoring in Economics and Philosophy, and his Masters in Business Administration at Spain’s IE Business School.

Before founding LaGrande Global, Shawn helped manage $1.1 billion in client assets at Bernstein Global Wealth Management. He also worked as a credit research analyst at J.P. Morgan. He is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, and he has been an advisor to numerous high-stakes divorce cases.

Shawn is the author of two well-received finance books: Managing Private Wealth: Principles, and Divorce and Your Money: The No-Nonsense Guide, both published in 2016.

In his spare time, Shawn is an ultra-endurance athlete and has competed in events as long as 24 hours. He is an Eagle Scout and a member of the Alumni Board of Greenhill School.