The entire concept of alimony (also known as spousal support) has been controversial from the beginning, although most people agree that it is often justified. Any system can be abused, however, and the alimony system is frequently abused. If you believe you are being asked for too much alimony, you may be right.

A Note on Negotiating Divorce Settlement Agreements

The amount of alimony is usually agreed between the spouses and inserted into a divorce settlement agreement. The key here is to negotiate intelligently. Common pitfalls include:

  • Attempting to represent yourself without the aid of a lawyer (especially if your spouse has a lawyer)

  • Failing to take into account the totality of the circumstances. The paying spouse, for example, may have agreed to pay 100 percent of community debts. Facts like this should be taken into account when determining the amount of alimony payments.

Duration of Payments

It is best to insist on a definite duration of payments – an end date, in other words. If you don’t settle this issue, you could be paying until you get a court order to cease payment and that could be expensive. The general rule of thumb is that alimony payments should continue for half the duration of the marriage (if the court allows this, and they might not). Three years, for example, if the marriage lasted for six years.

Effect of Self-Employment

If you are self-employed, your income might vary from month to month. With a fixed monthly alimony payment, you could end up missing payments some months and having more than enough other months. A fixed monthly payment should be no more than an amount you know you’ll be able to afford every month, perhaps with a periodic additional bonus.

Increases in Income after Separation

Generally speaking, increases in the paying spouse’s income that occurred after separation should not be taken into account when determining the amount of alimony.

What to Do When Your Ex Refuses to Work

If your spouse is able to work but refuses to (or is voluntarily underemployed), you can petition the court to order a vocational examination. The examiner will investigate, and his report may lead to a lowering of your alimony burden. You will have to pay for the examination, however.

What to Do When Your Spouse Moves in with a Romantic Partner

When your spouse cohabitates with a non-marital partner, the court will presume a decreased need for alimony. Nevertheless, your ex-spouse is entitled to try to prove that this presumption is inappropriate. By contrast, if you move in with a non-marital partner, your alimony burden will not be affected.   

Contact the Professionals

CKB Vienna is committed to the aggressive representation of our clients. In other words, we’re not going to allow anyone to take advantage of you. If you are involved in an alimony dispute or if you anticipate one, call us ASAP at 909-980-1040 or contact us online, We  serve clients throughout Upland, Fontana, Ontario, Chino Hills, Claremont,Rancho Cucamonga, including Alta Loma and Etiwanda.