How to Avoid Paying Spousal Support

Posted on October 18, 2017 11:04am
How to Avoid Paying Spousal Support

If you are going through a divorce in Oregon, or considering a divorce, you may be wondering if you can avoid paying spousal support (alimony). If you think you may be asked to pay spousal support, are there ways to avoid it?

Many couples do not bring in the same income and will have disproportionate “earning power” after they separate. Whether this is because one spouse took on the role of a stay-at-home parent, or simply because one spouse’s career paid a better salary, the uneven earning may be enough to justify court-ordered payments. If you wish to avoid making alimony payments to your soon-to-be ex-spouse, there are a few things you may be able to do.

Types of Spousal Support

Spousal support, also called maintenance or alimony, is a set amount paid from one ex-spouse to another after their divorce. The goal of spousal support is to ensure that each spouse can maintain the same lifestyle they did prior to the divorce. There are three different types of spousal support in Oregon. Each is slightly different but with the same eventual purpose—to see both spouses financially stable after the divorce.

  • Maintenance support intends to help maintain the lifestyle the other spouse had been accustomed to, sometimes indefinitely.
  • Transitional support is designed as a type of financial assistance to help the lesser-earning spouse improve his or her earning capacity through school or some other training or education.
  • Compensatory support can be used to reimburse one spouse for something the other spouse was able to accomplish through the support of their marriage. For example, if one spouse worked to pay for the other to go to school and get a degree, the working spouse may be owed compensation for providing for the other spouse while he or she was able to obtain a degree that helped further their individual career.

Avoiding Spousal Support

Whether you will be able to avoid paying alimony depends on the circumstances of your marriage and the financial position of you and your spouse. Some people may try to lie to the court about their finances or find other ways to evade payments. We do not recommend these tactics in any situation. However, they may be a few things you can legally do to make court-ordered spousal support less likely.

Work with your Attorney

An experienced divorce attorney will help you determine the best financial outcome of various spousal maintenance scenarios and help you negotiate with your spouse intelligently. Your lawyer will also review documents in the discovery process to accurately assess your financial situation and present a fair picture to the court.

Property Division

If you are likely to be ordered to pay spousal support, you may also try to negotiate other means of compensation in your divorce settlement in place of support payments. For instance, giving one spouse a larger percentage of the marital assets, or taking on a higher percentage of your marital debt or tax burden could offset an order of spousal support, or reduce the amount or duration of payments.

Prenuptial/Postnuptial Agreements

If you are not yet divorced, you may be able to seek a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, depending on whether you are married yet or not. In this agreement you and your spouse may legally outline what will take place if you should divorce, including a direct order to avoid arranging for spousal support. It is important to note that prenuptial agreements can be challenged in court, however.

Short Marriage

If you are currently unhappy in your marriage and think a divorce is inevitable, acting quickly may help decrease the amount of spousal support paid. One of the deciding factors in spousal support payments is the duration of the marriage. Couples who have been married longer typically will pay and receive higher alimony payments. So, if you already know a divorce is your best option, you may want to consider acting quickly to avoid higher costs down the road.

Seeking a Support Modification

After the court has already ordered spousal maintenance, there are ways you may seek a modification or altogether elimination of those payments. If your ex-spouse remarries or lives with a partner, you may petition for the complete elimination of spousal support. Or, if you experience a drastic adjustment to your income or you lose your job, you may petition the court for an adjustment to spousal support and can request lower payments.

Contact McKinley Irvin divorce lawyers in Oregon with any questions regarding your spousal maintenance or other divorce issues.
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