2024 How to Avoid Paying Alimony in California?

Divorce is a heavy weight to carry, but some divorce settlements that include alimony payments could leave you feeling the weight for years to come. Alimony is not always guaranteed, but avoiding those payments is certainly something many wish to avoid. There is no set formula to help you avoid it, but understanding the circumstances of your divorce, how the law determines alimony, and common ways to lawfully avoid paying it can help you make educated decisions that will help protect your finances. The best step to take is to enlist the help of a divorce attorney in Anaheim, CA.

What Is Alimony and How Is it Determined?

Alimony, commonly known as spousal support, refers to payments that one spouse makes to the other during divorce proceedings or, after entry of judgement, whether by divorce settlement or trial. For some couples, one spouse may make significantly more money than the other which provides a certain standard of living during the marriage. Alimony seeks to provide support for the lesser-earning spouse until they become self-sufficient. While not mandatory, situations such as these make it common.

Other factors that could determine if a spouse receives alimony and/or affects the amount of support they receive include the following:

  • Earning capacity. Earning capacity is the potential amount a spouse can earn. This determination is based on a number of factors, such as age, education, and work experience. If, for example, a spouse is young, has a college degree, and has work experience within their career field, they are likely to earn more money in the future and therefore have a higher earning capacity.
  • Length of marriage. California views marriages as both long-term and short-term. Short-term marriages are typically those that last less than ten years. The designation is important because if a spouse is awarded alimony in a short-term marriage, they may only be awarded it for a length of time equal to not more than half the length of the marriage. The longer the marriage, the higher the likelihood that alimony payments will be made and that they may last for a longer period of time.
  • Standard of living. All marriages establish a standard of living. If the couple had a high standard of living during the marriage, then there is a higher likelihood that the spouse who earned less will receive alimony because they have become accustomed to that lifestyle. The payments, however, are designed to provide that spouse with a time frame to become more self-sufficient.

A spouse’s physical or emotional condition. If there are health factors such as mental, emotional, or physical deficiencies that limit a spouse’s ability to work or their earning potential and they make disproportionately less money, then they may be more likely to receive alimony.

Knowing these circumstances can help you during the litigation process by building your case around the facts that would potentially speak to each of these scenarios. 

The Top Ways of Avoiding Alimony Payments

If you are legally ordered to make alimony payments, you can’t fail to pay them as a means of avoidance. However, there are steps that you can take to lawfully avoid these payments before they’re ordered or minimize the amount that you will need to pay. Some common strategies include:

  • Know that alimony is not automatic. If you make the assumption that you will have to make payments, then you will likely end up doing so and/or overpaying support. However, knowing that they aren’t automatic means, you can build a case that shows it is unnecessary. During many divorce proceedings, there will be a hearing where the court determines temporary spousal support or a trial where the court will look at all of the relevant Family Code 4320 factors and determine permanent spousal support. With a strongly built case, you may be able to prove alimony does not need to be paid.
  • Get a prenuptial agreement. While you don’t enter your marriage expecting it to end, there may be circumstances from the beginning that you wish to consider. If you enter the marriage with significant assets or higher earnings than your soon-to-be spouse, then you may wish to have a prenuptial agreement that sets the parameters for a divorce, should it ever happen.
  • Prove your spouse is cohabitating with another person. Once your spouse begins living with someone else, it could negate the alimony payments that you could potentially pay or are already paying. Once they begin cohabitating, their cost-of-living changes because there is a reasonable argument that they are splitting costs with one another. Alimony is not to penalize the person paying it but to provide financial assistance if it is needed.
  • Get help from the right attorney. Hiring an attorney that is familiar with divorce law, specifically alimony, can help your case. With the right experience and knowledge, an attorney can help prove alimony is unnecessary.
  • Consider fairness. California divorces seek equity and fairness for both parties involved. If you wish to avoid alimony payments, you may need to compromise in other areas to balance the settlement.

FAQs About California Alimony Laws

Can Alimony Be Waived in California?

California law allows alimony to be waived if it is established prior to the marriage. This is often done through a prenuptial agreement. At the time of the agreement, however, both spouses must be represented by an attorney, and both must be of sound mind at the time it is signed. There are various other requirements that need to be met. If you are considering a pre-nuptial agreement you need to hire an experienced attorney that focuses on family law to draft the agreement and ensure that all the requirements are met.

How Do I Stop My Wife or Husband from Getting Alimony?

Without a prenuptial agreement, the court must consider very specific factors to determine whether it will award alimony and for long and how much. Those circumstances may include proving your spouse cohabitating with another adult, demonstrating that your spouse has a high earning potential, proving a history of domestic violence, showing that you lack the ability to pay, presenting that your spouse does not need the support or establishing that the length of marriage negates the need for the payments. Working with an attorney can help you to build the right strategy.

How Do I Get Rid of Spousal Support in California?

Modifications or cancellations of spousal support are only made through court orders. To successfully modify alimony payments, there needs to be proof that there are significant changes to financial or living circumstances that have arisen since the original order was put into place. Petitioning the court will begin the process and be finalized with a new court order.

Is Alimony Mandatory in California?

Alimony is not mandatory in California and is used as a way to provide assistance to one spouse from another. It may be awarded permanently or temporarily depending on the length of the marriage and the difference in income or earning potential. Unless agreed upon by you and your spouse prior to the divorce ending, it is only required if issued through a court order.

Anaheim Divorce Attorney

If you are facing a divorce, you may have many questions. At Moranda Law Firm APC, our family law attorneys can help provide you with the answers you need. Whether you need help with avoiding alimony, changing an alimony structure, or you need help with any area of the divorce process, contact our offices and let us put our knowledge and experience to work for you.

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