Alimony, which is support paid to an economically disadvantaged spouse after a divorce, can understandably become a huge bone of contention during divorce. So you might be relieved to find out that you and your spouse have incomes that are close enough together that an order to pay alimony from either of you is unlikely.
Before you sign a waiver eliminating any claims to past, present or future alimony, however, there are several things you need to consider.
Your circumstances may change. Your ex-spouse’s circumstances may change.
Under the Massachusetts Alimony Reform Act of 2011, an order for alimony can be modified whenever there is a material change in your circumstances. That gives the court room to increase or decrease the amount of alimony being paid or the duration of payments — but only if there’s good cause. Changes can also be made by agreement of the two parties involved.
While you and your spouse may generally agree that alimony is neither due nor just right now, that could change in the future. For example, here are some common scenarios that could lead you to ask for alimony in the future:
- Your ex-spouse suddenly has a huge increase in fortunes and begins earning significantly more money.
- You become disabled due to an accident or illness in the near future and are unable to work.
- Your child becomes ill or develops a problem that makes it impossible for you to continue working.
While you may not expect your ex-spouse to be beholden to you forever, you do have a right to look out for your own interests.
Preserving future alimony rights provides a two-way safety net.
If your spouse is hesitant about the issue or is pushing you to waive your future alimony rights, point out that the safety net that is created by not waiving those rights goes both ways. Alimony isn’t exclusive to one gender. Your ex-spouse could just as easily wind up in a disabling accident as you.
Generally speaking, it’s never wise to make decisions about your alimony rights without some experienced advice. An attorney can help you better understand your options — and know when to hold your ground on this important issue.