How to Avoid Paying Alimony In New York
If you are the higher-earning spouse in your marriage and are looking to, or are, getting a divorce, you may be on the hook for alimony or spousal support. We’ll use these two terms interchangeably in this article. Spousal support is (usually temporary) payments made to your spouse during and after the divorce proceedings to give them time to regain the necessary skills or education to reenter the workforce. If you’re ordered to pay spousal maintenance after your divorce, this could make it harder for you to rebuild your own life. Here are some ways you might be able to avoid paying alimony and how Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. can help.
Sign a Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement
The best way to protect yourself from being responsible for spousal support in the event that you and your spouse get a divorce is to sign a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. Once considered unromantic, these agreements aims to protect the assets of married individuals if they should later decide to dissolve their legal union. Prenups and postnups function effectively the same way and there are few differences between the two, with the exception that a prenup is signed before the marriage and a postnup is signed anytime after the wedding but before either spouse files for a divorce.
Negotiate Giving Your Spouse Assets Instead of Paying Alimony
If you don’t have an agreement that covers alimony in place at the time of your divorce, you may be able to negotiate to give your spouse assets during the equitable distribution process instead of making ongoing alimony payments. For example, if you own two vehicles as part of your separate property, you may be able to give one to your spouse to cover some or all of the spousal support you would otherwise be required to pay.
Prove That Your Spouse Doesn’t Need Spousal Support
If you don’t have a prenup or postnup that indicates you have to pay a certain amount of alimony, you may be able to reduce or eliminate spousal support payments if you can prove that your spouse does not need financial support following the divorce.
For example, if your spouse has a side business that they are able to grow after the divorce, you can ask the court for support modification. This allows the court to reevaluate your spouse’s finances to determine if alimony payments can be reduced or stopped. If and when your ex-spouse remarries, they become ineligible to receive or continue receiving spousal maintenance.
Live Within Reduced Means
The amount of spousal support you will be ordered to pay, if any, is dependent upon how much money you earn compared to your expenses, along with any assets you own. You will pay alimony as a percentage of your income, which cannot be more than a certain amount under New York law.
If your income is reduced and you can live within those means, you may be able to avoid being ordered to pay alimony, since you will have no disposable income. However, it’s important to note that a court may look for indicators that you are changing your material circumstances to influence the outcome of your divorce proceedings.
Consider Filing a Fault Divorce
While there are no statutes that suggest an at-fault spouse cannot receive alimony, many courts are reluctant to order one spouse to pay spousal support to the other when the other is accused of causing or contributing to the breakdown of the marriage. For example, if your spouse committed adultery and you wish to get a divorce, you may file for a fault or no-fault divorce. If you file a fault divorce citing adultery as the cause (and can prove it in court), you may have a greater chance to avoid paying alimony to your cheating spouse.
Get Spousal Support Help from a New York Divorce Lawyer
The best way to protect yourself from the burden of paying spousal maintenance or alimony during or after a divorce is to work with an experienced New York divorce attorney. Navigating the process of dissolving your marriage is complex and requires the support of a qualified family lawyer to be successful.
Contact Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. today to learn more about how you might be able to avoid paying alimony or to get help with another family legal issue by calling 631-923-1910 or filling in the short form on this page.
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