Alimony is support paid by one former spouse to the other in an amount and duration set by a court or separation agreement. The rules regarding alimony entitlement, calculation and duration are set by individual state laws and within each state, family courts possess considerable discretion in deciding whether to award alimony or not. Despite the variations in alimony law among the states, husbands wishing to avoid paying alimony should take similar actions in all jurisdictions.
Consult with a domestic relations attorney licensed to practice in your state before taking any steps to end your marriage. Although state-specific information on family law topics is widely available on the Internet, laypeople run the risk of misapplying the law in very expensive ways. Before the consultation, familiarise yourself with the domestic relations code in your state so that you can ask good questions. You may learn that you are not a supporting spouse and that your alimony exposure, if any, is minimal or nonexistent.
Review your case for factors that may constitute a bar to a court's awarding alimony in your state. In North Carolina, for example, the law prohibits a court from ordering alimony where the dependent spouse committed adultery and the supporting spouse did not. If your state has a similar provision and you suspect your wife has cheated, ask your attorney about the evidence she will need to help you establish this defence.
Refrain from making any career moves before separating. In most jurisdictions, alimony is based in part upon the supporting spouse's ability to support the other and still maintain himself. While you should not avoid improving your salary -- divorce is expensive, and you'll need the extra money and you may never get another chance at a given opportunity -- advancing your career should not be your focus at this time in your life.
Avoid increasing your wife's standard of living, a key factor in any alimony proceeding. A lifestyle that is expensive to maintain before separation will be expensive to maintain afterward. While most states will consider the standard for several years before separation, avoid buying a new house, buying new cars or taking expensive vacations.
Minimise your wife's need for alimony by increasing her earning capacity or reducing her debt service expenses. Paying off student loans or other debt in her name will cut her monthly outlay after separating, thereby cutting your alimony exposure. Encourage her to seek employment or pursue a higher-paying job.
Offer to shoulder an unequal share of the marital debt in exchange for a reduced or eliminated alimony obligation. Agreeing to take on more debt and giving your wife a greater share of marital property than the law would otherwise allow may convince her to let you off the hook for alimony, although this may not be advisable in some cases.
Things you need
- Copy of your state's domestic relations code