How to Avoid Paying Too Much Alimony

How to Avoid Paying Too Much Alimony

Alimony (known in Oregon as “spousal support”) is one of most contentious issues in divorce. Whenever there is a large discrepancy between the incomes of the spouses, there is a possibility of paying alimony. For many, paying alimony is unavoidable. Still, there are things that the primary earner can do to limit the amounts that he or she will pay.  Read on for tried and true strategies in Oregon divorces.

Weigh Alimony Against Marital Debts

As with your assets, the marital debts are divided as part of the divorce. The divorce court does not have authority to modify your contractual relationship with a third-party lender (i.e., take you off the mortgage), but the court can order one spouse only to pay a debt. In situations where the primary earner is left responsible for paying the majority of the marital debts, the debt load may be taken into account when setting the amount of alimony. Take on a debt may be better or at least more palatable than paying increased alimony. It is therefore important to think strategically when negotiating the division of your debts.

Negotiate a Buy-out

Your divorce will eventually end, but, when alimony is in play, you may find yourself back in your attorney’s office if your ex-spouse files a motion to modify. The threat of future legal costs is a problem for both parties. As a result, spouses sometimes agree to skip the alimony in favor of a lump-sum buy-out. By structuring the arrangement as part of the non-modifiable property division, there will not be a risk of future modification proceedings. When calculating a buy-out, it is important to consider not only the amount and duration of the hypothetical payments, but also the so-called “present value” of the lump-sum payment and, most important of all, the tax consequences of paying and receiving alimony. Because tax laws can change, it is important to seek current and professional advice in this regard.

Consider the Standard of Living Enjoyed During the Marriage

In Oregon, there is no formula for calculating spousal support. In most cases, the purpose of ordering alimony is to ensure that the lower-earning spouse is able to achieve a standard of living that is reasonably comparable to the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage. In contested cases, it is common for the court to receive extensive and conflicting evidence on this point. Many lawyers settle for anecdotal evidence given in the form of testimony by a party. A more effective tactic is to document and quantify the family’s spending. A skilled attorney can work with you to determine the best strategy for your particular situation.

The award-winning family law firm of Gearing Rackner & McGrath, serving Oregon and Washington, can work with you every step of the way to make sure that you receive the best possible results with respect to your alimony arrangement.

To schedule a consultation with one of our family law attorneys in Oregon or SW Washington, call us now at 503.468.6741 or write us.

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