No one wants to pay alimony, but it can be a reality for many people going through a divorce. Alimony payments can be costly and add up over time. In this post we’ll discuss how keeping your finances separate during marriage can help you avoid paying alimony in your divorce, and you’ll be on your way to keeping more of your hard earned money.
Separate During Marriage, Separate After Divorce
One of the smartest things you can do when getting married is to keep your finances separate from your spouse’s. This way if you do end up getting divorced, you won’t be left with nothing – or worse, debts of the other party. If there’s a divorce, it’s easier to divide assets and debts that have always been maintained separately. There’s no question of what was premarital and what was postmarital. There’s no co-mingling, there’s no reliance, there’s no dissipation claims. Many of the issues that come up that complicate dividing finances are eliminated if you’ve never commingled them. People who do keep finances separate can still create a joint account and deposit money into that account for family related expenses, bills, buying a house, child care, college contributions, and the like.
Minimizing the Risk of Alimony
In general, you can maintain more control over your finances if they’re separate. Again, if you commingle and you’re putting in unequal amounts, spending unequal amounts, or if one person’s paying for the joint amounts, there’s no sort of equal or fair allocation of what’s going in or out. And generally speaking, in most situations, there is going to be unequal earning power. When you’re putting everything into one pot, everybody’s relying on all of it. And when it comes time to divide it, it makes it harder to determine who should get how much when it comes to assets and debts. It can also impact alimony. Alimony is in, in one part in a very small part, dependent upon the lifestyle that you shared while you’re married. If the lower earning spouse had access to significant additional funds and credit cards beyond his or her earning potential, then you’re increasing the alimony exposure by that simple fact.
Additionally, it can be difficult to track joint expenses to make sure that you’re both contributing equally when they’re combined. Most “traditional” families I see aren’t rigid in calculating the difference between their income and how much they should be contributing to the mortgage payment. Will it be equal even though there’s unequal earning? Are we going to be saving money jointly? Are we going to keep it separate? Is my 401K contribution much larger because I earn more? These are all issues that don’t need to be resolved in your divorce if you’ve maintained separate finances.
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.