How to Protect Yourself from Paying Unreasonable Spousal Support (Alimony)
Alimony, also called spousal support, is a significant issue for most couples going through a divorce on Long Island. If you’re the higher-earning spouse, you could be stuck paying too much alimony for too long if you’re not careful. Here’s how you can protect yourself from paying unreasonable spousal support during and after your divorce.
Work with an Experienced Long Island Divorce Lawyer
Negotiating for fair alimony is nearly impossible without the help of an experienced family law attorney. By having a lawyer on your side who can help you better understand how New York spousal support works, you can more zealously advocate for fair alimony payments, which in some cases, is no payments at all.
Make a Full Representation of Your Earnings
The best way to ensure you aren’t paying too much alimony is to give a full representation of your earnings. It’s also legally required that you do so. Don’t attempt to hide assets or raises. On the other hand, you should also shine a light on anything that has caused you to earn less money. Admitting you’ve been laid off or your hours have been reduced can be difficult, but it can also be exactly what cuts your alimony payment in half.
Negotiate with Other Assets and Debt
You may be able to avoid paying too much alimony if you have assets and debts you can negotiate with. Because New York is an equitable distribution state, you can barter or “trade” assets and debts with your ex-spouse as you wish until you’re able to reach an agreement on something you’re both willing to sign off on.
For example, say you have a fully paid-off house. You’d rather not pay alimony and you don’t mind downsizing to a smaller residence after your split. In exchange for not paying alimony, you may be able to negotiate that your ex-spouse gets to keep the house. Or, if your ex-spouse has accumulated a lot of debt during the marriage, you can offer to take on a larger portion of responsibility for it in exchange for lower alimony payments each month.
Know How Long Your Alimony Will Last
Spousal support isn’t meant to be truly permanent, with the exception of very rare cases where the lesser earning spouse is not expected to attain independence at any point; for example, if the spouse has become critically disabled. Even when a judge awards “permanent” alimony, it typically only lasts until your ex-spouse remarries or is able to earn enough to financially support themselves. Truthfully, alimony in those cases is only actually permanent when and if that never happens.
Temporary alimony, which is the most common type of spousal support awarded in New York divorces, has an end date that is usually specified in the final divorce decree. Know when this date is and how long your alimony is meant to last. Once your alimony date ends, you are no longer required to make payments.
Request a Modification If Necessary
If circumstances occur that would impact your ability to pay the amount of alimony awarded to your ex-spouse, you may be able to request a modification of spousal support. Reasons that allow you to request a change to your alimony decree include but are not limited to:
- You are fired, demoted, or are otherwise making significantly less money than you did when your case was originally finalized and can no longer afford to pay your alimony.
- Your ex-spouse remarries and no longer requires spousal support.
- Your ex-spouse gets a higher-paying job and is able to support themselves without your alimony payments.
- You become ill, incapacitated, or disabled and are no longer able to work.
Call Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. Today for a Consultation
Are you facing alimony negotiations during your Long Island Divorce? Being ordered to pay spousal support that you can’t afford can be the final straw when it seems as though your entire life is crumbling right before your eyes. Don’t wait to get the legal help you need from an experienced, aggressive Long Island family law firm that has a proven track record protecting clients from paying unfair alimony for too long. Call today for your consultation at 631-923-1910.
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