Friday, April 2, 2010

What Divorce Law is Doing to Marriage Part 37

More from the words of Jed Abraham

You might think that just as the remarriage of your ex would be a significant change in your circumstances, so would your remarriage. You might think that, since your remarriage imposes new legal obligations of support on you, they should be considered in mitigation of your old ones. You might think that your remarriage, therefore, should result in a modification downward of alimony to your ex.

The court may think other wise. The court may think that your remarriage is your own fault which you have no one to blame but yourself. It will deny your motion for a modification downward. It will not permit you to palm off one obligation of support for another.

But wait, you’re not out of court just yet. The court will consider your ex’s counter-motion on for a modification upward. If your new wife works, or otherwise has money, your ex can argue that you’ll now have access to more disposable income than before. Your ex can argue that, since you must still support her, your remarriage to a moneyed woman is a significant change in your circumstances that justifies a modification upward of your alimony. Your ex can argue that, although your remarriage is your own fault, you couldn’t have done it without your new wife, and why shouldn’t she be punished, too?

Your ex never does remarry, and you notice that it’s been taking a long time for the children to grow up. But when at last they do, you can drag yourself back to court and file a petition to determine whether your ex is finally making the good faith effort the law expects her to make to get full-time work and become self-supporting.

You’re too late. Your ex is older now. She can’t be held to the same standard a younger woman would have to meet. It would be unreasonable to expect a middle-aged homemaker, with little to no work experience, suddenly to go out and find a well-paying job. The responsibility the law places on ex-wives ultimately to become self-sufficient must always be tempered by equity.

You may have though that spending time and money on your wife after things start going bad could save your marriage. It may, rather, destroy your divorce.

The longer your marriage and the older you are when you are ordered to pay alimony, the more likely it is you will have to continue to pay a significant amount. Your ex will also be on years. The chances of her finding suitable employment are low. At the same time, the chances that her health will decline with her years is high. The court will sympathize. She will likely get alimony for the rest of your life.

If you’re really old, the court may also order you to fund an insurance trust for her. That way, if you die before she dies, the trust will pick up her alimony. The court will see to it that she gets her eternal reward just as soon as you go to yours.

When the time comes for you to retire, you cannot just stop paying or reduce your alimony. Even though you’ve stopped working and are no longer earning income. You’ll have to go back to court to ask for a modification of your alimony order.

The court may not fully grant your request. If you have savings or other property to live off, and if your wife’s equitable distribution share of your modest pension, plus social security, do not cover her expenses, the court may tell you to dip into your savings and to continue paying her something…..

This concludes Alimony and the next chapter I will be covering will be “Child Support”.