No one wants to pay alimony after they get divorced, but many men find themselves facing this very real possibility. Alimony payments can cost you more than a portion of your monthly salary; it can also make it more difficult to rebuild your financial security after your divorce. Here’s how a prenuptial agreement can help you avoid paying alimony in your divorce.
What Is A Prenup?
Prenup is short for prenuptial agreement. I generally recommend that everybody gets a prenup and that they don’t plan a marriage or even move in together before a prenup agreement. This type of agreement is just something that you sign before you get married that says what premarital assets and debts you have, how you plan to maintain them during your marriage, and how you want them to be divided if you get divorced. It should also include provisions about alimony: whether it’s going to be a portion afterwards or if it’s not going to be awarded at all; how you’re going to evaluate it and determine if it will be included at some point in your future; and any other financial issues you think will arise during the course of your marriage.
It’s important to have a prenup because the hardest part about a divorce is the financial part, absent the difficulties with custody and parenting time – but a prenup can’t and won’t address those issues. At the time that you’re doing a prenup, you care most about one another and you may have the least amount of financial difficulties to contemplate. This means you may be able to do it a little more easily, and you’re more likely to be fair and reasonable to one another before you get married than if you’re in a divorce.
Creating A Prenuptial Agreement
You can create a prenup either on your own or with an attorney. I generally recommend having an attorney because you want to do it right. New Jersey has a significant amount of restrictions and requirements to make sure you have a valid prenuptial agreement, and the problem can be that you go through a marriage making decisions, financial and emotional and relationships, based on the fact you think you have a prenup, and then you may later find out that you don’t and you’ve relied on that to your detriment.
In the unfortunate aspect of a divorce, the risks of not having a prenup are the unknown outcomes to assets, debt allocation, and alimony. These are all highly complicated and complex analyses. There are no bright line rules in a divorce in New Jersey that tell you how much alimony gets awarded after how much time you pay based on how much you earn. There’s no calculation or formula, although we do try to use an informal calculator when determining potential alimony. Regardless, you will spend a great deal of money fighting over how to divide your money in a divorce if you don’t have a prenuptial agreement.
Additional Benefits of A Prenup
Clearly a prenup is great for minimizing your chances of paying alimony, but there are other benefits to drafting one before you get married. Namely, it allows the two partners to learn a lot about how the other maintains their finances, how much they’re earning, how much credit card debt that they have, and whether they have any judgments or outstanding school loans.
I still continue to see what I call a traditional family situation, meaning one person makes more than the other, where one person handles the finances and one person generally handles the children. Sometimes it’s the same person, and sometimes it’s different. There’s often a great divide, and a lot of times one spouse doesn’t know what the other earns. You learn a lot about a person when you do a prenup because you have to see their tax returns, their assets and debts, and judgements they have. This can prevent issues with secrecy about earnings and debts in the future.
If you have questions about alimony or would like to create a prenuptial agreement, which I always recommend to clients who are worried about having to pay alimony in the event of a divorce, please contact our office for a consultation. The Micklin Law Group’s attorneys focus on men and fathers who are going through a divorce. Husbands are often more worried about having to pay alimony than their wives; this is likely because men have traditionally been the ones to pay alimony. However, times have changed, and there are many completely lawful things we can do to help you avoid paying alimony. You can call our office at 973-562-0100.