Aug 18, 2020

5 Common Mistakes Men Make When Negotiating Alimony During Divorce

For anyone going through a divorce, alimony is likely to be a difficult topic to address. Men in particular may be unhappy about the idea that they will have to make ongoing payments to their ex-wives. If alimony is a factor in your divorce, you may worry about your ability to meet your own financial needs, especially if you will also be paying child support.

It is important to understand that alimony (which may also be referred to as spousal maintenance or spousal support) is not meant to be a punishment for anything that happened during a marriage or divorce. Instead, its purpose is to make sure that both parties can continue living at the standard they were used to during their marriage. Because of this, alimony will usually only be a factor in cases where one spouse earns significantly more than the other.

Whether you will be required to pay spousal support will depend on multiple different factors, which can vary depending on the laws in your state. Typically, a judge will consider the income that you and your spouse currently earn or should be able to earn, whether your spouse sacrificed career opportunities during your marriage or assisted you in furthering your education or career, and any other issues that affect your and your spouse’s ability to provide for yourselves.

If it is determined that alimony is appropriate, you will want to negotiate an agreement with your spouse that will allow you to make the required payments while also maintaining financial stability. During these negotiations, having a Naperville spousal maintenance attorney on your side can help you make sure your rights are being protected, and your lawyer can work with you to reach an outcome that will protect your financial interests. Some mistakes you will want to avoid during these negotiations include:

  1. Hiding money - You may be tempted to try to conceal assets or income from your spouse out of the hope that this would reduce the amount that you may be required to pay in spousal support. This is never a good idea. During the divorce process, you are required to make a full disclosure of your finances, including all sources of income, the assets you own together with your spouse or separately, and any debts you owe. Any attempts to hide money or misreport income will most likely be uncovered during the divorce process, and you could face penalties for attempting to unfairly influence the decisions made during your divorce. You should be sure to fully report all financial information so that decisions about alimony will be based on your and your spouse’s ability to provide for yourselves.
  2. Dissipating marital assets or spending money - As an alternative to concealing money or income, you may think that by spending the money you have, you can reduce the financial resources available to you and lower the amount of potential alimony payments. However, spousal support is based on your and your spouse’s income, not on the assets you own. Even though your assets may be a factor in determining whether to award alimony, a judge will probably recognize that you have made unnecessary expenditures, and they will take this activity into account when addressing spousal maintenance. You should also be aware that you could face penalties for the dissipation of marital assets, which involves spending marital funds on purposes unrelated to your family or otherwise reducing the value of any assets that you and your spouse own together. If a judge determines that you have dissipated assets, you will likely be required to reimburse the marital estate for these losses.
  3.  Quitting your job - Another way that some men may attempt to minimize the amount of their alimony payments is to reduce the income they earn. Since spousal support is usually calculated using a percentage of your income, you may think that if you earn less, you will be required to pay less. However, alimony will most likely be calculated using your “imputed income,” meaning that it will be based on the income you should be able to earn. Even if you quit your job, you may be required to pay an amount based on what you had been earning before you quit, and this can leave you scrambling to find a new job that will allow you to meet your obligations. If you have lost your job for other reasons, you will need to demonstrate the specific grounds for your termination to ensure that alimony is calculated fairly based on your financial circumstances.
  4.  Opting for lump-sum alimony - To avoid making long-term payments and being financially tied to your spouse for years to come, you may think that it is best to negotiate a single alimony payment and be done with the matter. However, this type of arrangement is often less beneficial than making smaller spousal support payments for a certain period of time. If you set up ongoing payments, this agreement could be terminated if your ex-spouse gets remarried or if she begins earning enough to support herself. Ultimately, a lump-sum alimony payment can end up costing you much more than you would have paid under a standard spousal support arrangement.
  5.  Not considering taxes - Under the current tax laws, you cannot deduct alimony payments from your taxes, and your ex-spouse will not report the payments she receives as taxable income. You will want to be sure to understand how the payments you make will impact your taxes, and you should also consider the tax consequences of other decisions made during your divorce, such as selling your home. It is usually a good idea to work with an accountant to make sure you understand all of the financial implications of spousal support and other issues, and this can make sure you are on good financial footing once your divorce is finalized.

Avoiding these mistakes can help you make sure alimony will be handled correctly during your divorce, and you can be prepared for success as you move on to the next stage of your life. By working with an experienced Naperville divorce lawyer, you can negotiate a spousal support agreement that will protect your rights and your financial interests, and you can also make sure all other legal and financial issues will be addressed correctly during the divorce process.

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