How to Avoid Getting Slammed On Alimony In a Stay at Home Wife Divorce
If you’re going through a Stay at Home Wife Divorce, you are at risk.
These marriages are a perfect storm for a judge to award sky high alimony awards.
This is especially true with the new 2019 tax law changes which eliminated the alimony deduction for the payor spouse.
When a Husband is a breadwinner and the Wife stayed home in a long term marriage, the goal is often to minimize the amount of alimony paid as opposed to eliminating it altogether.
We are going to show you three tactics you can use during the men’s divorce process prior to settlement that can help reduce your alimony obligation, leading to a fair result, and minimizing the chances of getting slammed in your case.
But first, a quick primer on alimony in Florida and why you need to be so cautious.
Florida Alimony: Who Pays For Her Lifestyle?‘
Florida alimony law has this concept of “need”. Judges want to make sure the Wife’s needs are met when the divorce is final if they can.
But “need” in Florida divorce really means what does the Wife need to continue her marriage lifestyle if possible.
And that is a big difference.
So if the Wife lived the good life during the marriage Florida is going to recognize that in alimony awards.
And who pays?
Well, she pays the portion of her need that she can pay. And the rest gets paid by the Husband. Provided of course, the Husband actually makes enough money to cover the differential. (Florida calls this concept the “ability to pay”).
A stay at home wife has usually been out of the workforce for quite some time. That means the amount that she needs to pony up for herself is often in controversy. And often the Wife will stake the position that she can’t make any money to contribute to her needs.
And this is where the danger really lies. This is where alimony awards can go crazy on the Husband.
But don’t worry. This does not mean you’ll get smoked if you’re the Husband. But it does mean you need to be proactive and build your case so the worst does not happen.
You can do that by keeping the Wife’s lifestyle reasonable, researching the Wife’s employment options after the divorce, and exploring rehabilitative alimony options to help the Wife get back working.
Keeping Lifestyle Reasonable
The most obvious step is to keep the lifestyle of the Wife reasonable.
For many readers, the damage may have already been done. If a divorce is filed and the Wife has spent years making gaudy purchases at the permission of the Husband, the Court will consider that.
But if your in that gray period where divorce is a possibility but you’re still trying to work things out be cautious about trying to buy your way back into her heart. Consider this a fair warning.
And if divorce is on the horizon there are still a few things you can do.
Living Expenses: If separation is on the horizon, consider the Wife’s future home. If your paying alimony then her living expenses will be a big part of that nut. Do you currently live in a big house? Be careful with agreeing to allow her to stay in the house permanently after the divorce is final. There is a big difference in “rent” and utilities between big houses and small houses. Don’t put yourself on the hook for something that is unreasonable up front. If she wants to stay in the house address the issue of permanent possession down the road. If she wants to move out to reasonably priced accommodations consider helping her do so.
Cars: Alimony numbers factor in car costs. That means the higher the car costs the higher the alimony.
If she is interested in paying down the car payment then consider agreeing to her request. Likewise, if she is interested in trading her vehicle for a most cost effective but new model consider her request. Cheaper car and insurance payments translate to cheaper alimony payments.
Health Insurance: When the divorce is final your Wife will no longer be covered by your health insurance. But she will need health insurance. Proactively help her. Check with your insurance company to see what COBRA payments will be for your Wife when you divorce. Consider doing the homework and shopping insurance rates on her behalf. Cheaper health insurance for her means cheaper alimony for you.
Research Wife’s Employment Options After Divorce
You can’t force your Wife to get a job during the divorce process. But you can present evidence to the Court showing what your Wife could be making in the workforce.
We call this asking the Court to impute income to the Wife. That means asking the Court to pretend your Wife is making money when she is not.
Remember, once the court determines your Wife has a need, the question becomes how much of that need can your Wife pay. The more she pays the less you need to.
So you can win by being proactive and making sure she is responsible to pay her share.
But remember the Court is biased in favor of the Wife.
So don’t rely on Divorce Court to do the work for you.
Instead, present evidence. Here’s how:
- Gather Evidence That Suggests She Can Make Money: Do you have a copy of her resume? Prior tax returns showing what she did make when she did work? A copy of her diploma or other evidence showing her employability? That’s a great start.
- Do a Search on Current Pay: Search online for what people are making in positions your Wife is qualified for. A great place to start is teacher salaries and bank teller salaries if your Wife has been unemployed for some time.
Now, recognize that you yourself cannot testify to this evidence in court. In most cases consider getting help from a vocational evaluator.
There are experts who testify in court regularly about employability and market conditions. Your men’s divorce lawyer is able to ask the court to order your wife to play along with any investigation done by a vocational evaluator. That includes requiring your Wife to sit down for an interview so the expert can determine her skill set and employability.
Vocational evaluators are not simply a tool to try to minimize alimony, however. People trying to enter the workforce will often pay good money to work with these professionals. If (hopefully) your Wife is planning on entering the workforce soon, this report can be a valuable tool she can use to her benefit.
Consider Rehabilitative Alimony
An under-used tool during a Stay at Home Wife Divorce for the Husband is rehabilitative alimony. This is an alimony term for a short period of time with the specific goal of getting a former spouse into quality gainful employment.
Consider the example of Sally, a current homemaker but former Nurse. Her licenses have lapsed, and she is right to question her employability because she has been out of the workforce for a while.
But if Sally were to go back to school to get an advanced degree and do some on the job training her employability would appear again.
A Husband paying rehabilitative alimony would pay Sally enough alimony in the next two years or so to get her through school and on her way.
Now, the alimony would probably be high, because Sally’s ability to work at all would be very limited while she is going to school.
But when she is done, Sally would be self-sufficient, meaning the Husband’s future alimony payment after Sally graduates would be something substantially less than what she would need if she was unable to work at all.