SCRUTINIZING YOUR CLIENT’S ALIMONY STIPULATIONS IS KEY
In California, property division and alimony agreements often create serious points of friction for divorcing spouses. As a divorce attorney, you must constantly stay on top of a mountain of moving parts for your client, to ensure that they receive the best reasonable terms in agreements covering a wide spectrum of issues.
Sometimes, it isn’t until well after a divorce concludes that one party or the other may find a loophole in the terms of the divorce that he or she chooses to exploit unfairly. If you don’t anticipate some of these issues before they arise, your client may have no recourse.
One such loophole you should address during the settlement negotiation phase involves the terms surrounding termination of spousal support. A creative, motivated ex-spouse may find surprising ways to prolong spousal support long after common sense suggests it should end.
Doesn’t remarriage terminate a receiving spouse’s support?
Traditionally, rehabilitative and ongoing spousal support both terminate if the receiving spouse chooses to remarry. One California woman beat the system several years ago when she and her new partner chose to go through every aspect of getting married except actually getting married.
According to court documents, the supporting spouse was on the hook for roughly $50,000 per month (yes, you read that correctly) in spousal and child support payments following the divorce. The receiving spouse, obviously hoping to keep her half-million-per-year support flowing, planned a commitment ceremony with a new partner, and went through many of the steps that a bride goes through when planning and conducting a wedding.
Here’s the catch — the couple never legally married, allowing the spousal support to continue. The former husband objected and asked a court to terminate the support order. The court ruled that the support should continue because the receiving spouse was not, in fact, remarried.
Don’t hesitate to reach out for professional support
Unfortunately, when it comes to assets, divorcing spouses are often willing to skirt rules to secure better terms for themselves or to punish their exes. As a divorce attorney, your reputation is built on the quality of your work and the protections that you offer your clients.
Even if you believe that your divorce negotiation is going well, you may benefit from another pair of experienced eyes reviewing your work. Don’t be afraid to use every tool at your disposal to provide excellent services to your client base and build your practice. Professional guidance from an experienced family law attorney may help you avoid problems like this spousal support issue and identify strategies to more effectively achieve each client’s goals.