The best way to prevent getting stuck with paying alimony to your ex is to make good choices in the beginning of the marriage. In Utah, when the courts are determining whether or not someone will have to pay alimony, they’re generally looking at the whole picture. When it comes to issues such as child support, there’s a calculator to determine how much child support each party will contribute—if they contribute any at all. However, alimony is much more up to the judge’s discretion. There is no standard formula to calculate alimony. Instead, judges will look at both incomes (assuming there are two incomes), along with the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage, each party’s earning potential, and more. You will have a better chance of getting out of alimony if you can mitigate the conditions in which judges typically award alimony.
Send Your Spouse to School
Sending your spouse to school, if they haven’t already obtained an education or trade, can help you avoid alimony since education plays a big role in a person’s earning potential. The more earning potential your spouse has, the less likely you will be to pay alimony. You don’t have to pay for a college education in order to increase your spouse’s earning potential. Technical certifications and vocational training can also increase your spouse’s earning potential. In some cases, technical certifications or vocational training can increase your spouse’s earning potential more than some of the more niche four-year degrees. In fact, if your spouse’s fancy education is too niche, they’re earning potential may actually be decreased because they could have difficulty finding employment if there aren’t enough jobs in their field. For example, medical coding and being a real estate agent both take training but do not require a formal 4-year college degree, yet they provide good income rather quickly with the appropriate effort.
Make Sure Your Spouse Has a Work History
An education is nice and all, but your spouse needs to have a work history to accompany the education—especially if you’re trying to prevent alimony payments. The longer a person goes without a work history, the more likely it is that their training or schooling will be outdated making way for them to be awarded alimony. Problems normally arise when one party quits their job in order to raise the children while the other spouse continues in their career. Because one party paused their career, their earning potential is less than the party that continued building a career. You will be less likely to pay alimony if your spouse has a solid work history with skilled jobs. If the jobs are not a reliable source of income, or the jobs your spouse has worked do not provide very much income, you may still be ordered to pay alimony—even if your spouse has always worked a 40 hour work week.
Set and Maintain a Lower Standard of Living
Alimony is also based on the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage. So, if you live modestly or below your means, you may be able to argue that your spouse doesn’t need alimony in order to maintain the standard of living that you both enjoyed during the marriage. However, if you’re stashing away a bunch of money in savings as a result of living so far below your means, your spouse will likely be entitled to a portion of that. This may mean living in a less desirable location, driving older cars, and refraining from lavish vacations, and other luxuries. Generally speaking, the longer you maintain a lower standard of living, the better it will be for your alimony payments. The bottom line is that you want to maintain a standard of living that’s low enough for your spouse to be able to afford on their own income if you want to avoid paying alimony.
Get a Prenup or Postnup
A prenuptial agreement can provide you with some piece of mind if you’re concerned about alimony. Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements can potentially eliminate your legal obligation to pay alimony. If that’s not the case for your marriage, it can mitigate your obligation to pay alimony and it can protect premarital assets. If you’re concerned about paying alimony, having a prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement can help mitigate your potential losses by predetermining that obligation. If you need a prenup or postnup, it’s important for both parties to have the ability to have legal representation to ensure the prenuptial agreement is fair for both parties. Prenups and postnuptial agreements can be challenged and even thrown out if they favor one side too heavily or if there were other circumstances that suggest the process was unfair or fraudulent.
When You’re Concerned about Alimony
If you’re concerned about paying alimony, you need customized legal advice and an attorney who can fight for your rights and help you obtain the best outcome possible. This advice is typically best received before you get married. At CoilLaw, our attorneys are committed to advocating for your best interests and protecting your rights no matter what situation you are in. If you know you need protection whether before you get married or after, contact CoilLaw for an initial consultation now.