Are alimony “side deals” risky?

On Behalf of | Dec 9, 2021 | Alimony

Divorce proceedings involve a legal process inside a courtroom. Judgments and decrees made by the judge could be final, whether arrived at after a trial or approved after reviewing a settlement agreement. Not all ex-spouses in California may completely cut off interactions with one another after the final divorce decree, and some may try to work financial deals outside the court’s rulings. Such actions may leave one or both spouses in a difficult situation if things do not work as planned.

Circumventing court decrees over alimony

Both spouses may agree to a set amount of alimony per month. For example, one spouse may pay the other $1,000 per month. Financial obligations might extend to paying half of all incurred spousal debt, including tax debt. If the spouse who obliges to pay alimony makes an agreement with the other spouse to invest a part of the alimony and split the proceeds from the investment to cover the debts, problems could arise from the scheme.

If the spouse receiving the alimony is not contractually obligated to any agreements, the deal may end up canceled. Also, the agreement might not be legally binding, even with a written or oral contract.

Committed to the original alimony agreement

Anyone wishing to change alimony payments could seek a reduction or modification of alimony from the court. The court might consider alterations if the situation changes dramatically after the divorce. For example, the spouse paying the alimony may suffer tremendous financial hardships or become unable to work. However, the judge might not consider a failed agreement that attempts to side-step creditors as valid.

Carefully reviewing one’s financial situation before agreeing to any alimony amounts could lead to a preferable outcome. Attempts to change the final decree after the divorce may prove too difficult, so finalizing the divorce properly is a more agreeable plan.