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Can I legally avoid paying alimony?

There are couples who remain married in loveless relationships because they fear that they can't afford to get divorced. And it's true that between the property settlement, child support and alimony, a divorced spouse's paycheck can be stretched really thin.

But there may be ways to mitigate how much money is expended post-divorce in spousal support. Some divorcing couples are able to sidestep the concept of spousal support entirely.

Below are some suggestions for negotiating a divorce settlement that does not include alimony.

Sign the prenup

It's always best to draft and sign a prenup before taking that walk down the aisle. Failing that, postnuptial agreements can fill that niche, but if divorce is already in the cards, you might need to get a little savvier.

Offer a larger piece of the settlement pie

Your spouse who is angling for alimony might back down if offered the family home or contents, a bigger share of the retirement pension or another cushy asset like a vacation home in lieu of fighting for a monthly alimony check.

Lump sum payments

While technically you will still be paying spousal support, a single payment of lump sum alimony is often preferable for both the paying and recipient spouse. The paying spouse never again has to engage with their ex over alimony payments and the recipient can use the single payment to purchase property or finance a move elsewhere.

Ask the judge to evaluate your ex's fitness to work

The courts are more likely to award permanent or long term alimony to spouses who gave up careers or career opportunities to rear the children or take care of the family home. These individuals are perceived to be unable to find suitable employment at their ages or status in life. But if your spouse is college-educated and has a marketable skill set, your attorney can ask that the court do a vocational evaluation to assess your ex's potential earning power in today's market.

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