In most states, alimony is a court-ordered obligation based on the financial factors of the marriage. When a couple divorces, they may be able to negotiate with a mediator and decide alimony is not necessary or expected. If a spouse refuses to agree to a no-alimony divorce, the matter goes to a judge. If the judge orders you to pay alimony and you refuse to pay it, there may be serious consequences. You could be held in contempt of court, sentenced to jail time, or have funds from your estate confiscated. If someone feels they are paying too much alimony, they should consult a lawyer as their first step, but continue making the payments as ordered by the judge until the order is terminated or renegotiated.

What are Ways to Avoid Paying Alimony?

No one wants to pay alimony, but in most cases, it is meant to help a spouse get on their feet following a divorce where one party was a higher earner. In many marriages, one partner may put their career on hold to raise a family or support the other spouse as they focus on career advancement. When a judge decides someone should pay alimony to their spouse, it is based on factors such as contributions to the household during the marriage, standard of living, each spouse’s ability to earn an income, and other factors. If a judge orders you to pay alimony, it typically means you are in a healthier financial standing than your ex-spouse and there are very few ways to get out of paying.

How Long Do I Have to Pay Alimony?

In most cases and states, the length of time alimony is required will vary based on the length of the marriage. For example, in California, the obligation of alimony is usually half of the length of the marriage for marriages under ten years and permanent for marriages longer than ten years. This means if a couple was married for four years and alimony is awarded, the alimony payments would last for two years. A permanent order will last until circumstances change, such as your ex-spouse remarrying, changes in income from either party, or other changes that may make it possible to terminate or reduce the payments. Even with a permanent order, if the payee is able to support themselves or the payer loses their income, there could be a termination of the alimony. You should never stop paying court order alimony without first consulting legal counsel.

What About Retirement?

Many people wonder how permanent alimony works in retirement. Will you have to continue working past retirement age just to pay alimony? No one wants to spend their golden years worrying and working because of permanent alimony orders from a judge. In California, once a person reaches the retirement age and stops working, the alimony payments are either terminated or reduced to zero. If a person retires before the retirement age, they should consult their alimony or family law lawyer to figure out if the payments are still an obligation or find out about the possibility of reduced payment. Contact our law firm today at (310) 271-7675 for more information on how we can help.