Another common search bringing people to my site is 'How to get out of paying alimony', or 'Escaping Alimony' or 'How to Escape Alimony' or the like. How would someone do something like that? The following are my thoughts, and probably not the very best advice, but the best I have. (If you wonder why anyone would want to do such a thing, or how it could possibly be moral, I would suggest reviewing the posts on the NJ Divorce Process Post and Why Alimony Is Wrong)
The first step is to not jump into a divorce. Once the gears of the divorce machine are moving, it is really too late.
First, (assuming you have been married for a few years) you must rig your marriage to last for a couple more years. Tokens of love, romantic vacations, gifts.
You have to understand that everything that you have, your money, your investments, your home, is really going to be divided and destroyed by the divorce. Your lawyers, her lawyers, and your ex are going to get much of what you have. And anything you have left may be attached to to provide the alimony and child support you will be paying. So spend it now.
Set up trusts or accounts for your kids' educations, but set them up so neither you nor your current wife can withdraw them - only the kids should be able to get at them. 529 plans are one way.
Perhaps take your investments, split them exactly down the middle, and buy two annuities, one for her, and one for you - likely she doesn't have to know about this until the divorce phase starts. You retain ownership of both, she is the beneficiary of hers, you of yours. In the divorce, you just sign over the one with her as beneficiary to her.
Do not let anyone talk you into filing for divorce yet.
Get a Post Office Box. Keep it secret. Use it if you need to communicate with lawyers, or divorce resources.
Be good. No affairs, if you can at all help it, until the divorce is complete. Sorry, it's inhumane, but so is Divorce.
Now, lose your job. Find something that pays less than your wife is making. And keep that job. Make it work. Something close to home. You should be at that job for 3 years before seeking a divorce.
Consider moving to a 'man friendly' state, or better, a 'man friendly' country. Your need for a new job might be a good motivation for this. You need to live there long enough to be sure that your old state/country cannot claim jurisdiction. If you move, don't buy, rent. Sell and divide the return from the house.
In the last year, consider giving gifts of $150 per month to friends, asking them to hold it and give it back when you are in need. It isn't much, and you might just lose it if your friends fail you, but you are probably going to lose it anyway. Remember, these are gifts, so if your friends blow it, you aren't out anything. Forgive them. You will need their support in this process, even if it is only emotional support.
Line up child care and other personal support systems for your upcoming divorce. Make sure you have lots of people to help, places to escape to to blow of steam or relax.
Then, finally, you file for divorce, and custody. File Pro-se (representing yourself). This makes it difficult for your ex to pile her legal fees on you.
Do not move out of your residence. Ask her to move (but not the kids, they stay). Be very nice to her.
Shut her out of the bedroom - put a new lock on the bedroom door and put her stuff outside the room - or move it into another room. Do not get into arguments with her, or raise your voice. Do not raise your hand to her, no matter what she does. Retreat to your lockable room with the kids if she gets crazy.
Be generous dividing things. Give her what she wants if you can, but track costs. Make sure that she is demonstrably somewhat ahead of you in the division. Don't try to hide assets or money.
After the divorce, continue to stick with your easier, lower-paying job for the next 3 years or so. You want her to have moved on with her life before you start to accumulate any assets or start earning any more money.
Keep your earnings and assets a secret and live modestly. Women have taken men back to court many years after their divorce, and won new alimony and support arrangements that have kept men on the hook past retirement. You don't want this to be you.
You may still lose your house, and may even lose custody and pay some child support. But you will have given yourself as much freedom as possible. Alimony is unlikely, with your ex making more than you, and having pre-divided your assets, the legal fees should be reasonable.
Is it worth it? If you look at the time, money, and effort that goes into a 'by the books' divorce, and weigh your potential for being enslaved for the rest of your life, it seems very worth it. Your by-the-books divorce will likely drag out more than a year, and eat up a very significant chunk of your assets. Following the above plan, you will have little or no undivided assets, and little or no debt servitude to your ex.
By-the-books divorce features:
- Over a year of divorce struggles
- Years and years of ongoing legal wranglings (as her lawyers get to charge you their fees, there is no motivation for them to be reasonable, and every motivation for them to sue you frequently)
- Frozen assets
- Loss of house
- Loss of kids
- Loss of >50% of assets
- Paying alimony for the rest of your life?
- Child support for much of your remaining life?
- College costs? (Commonly tacked into divorce settlements by activist lawyers/judges)
Doing it this alternate way:
- Moving to a foreign country if you can
- Sale of house
- 3 years or so of prep work at a simple job close to your new home
- 3 years or so of post-divorce wind-down in new job
- Assets liqudated, gifted and divided
- Divorce is quicker, as little to fight over
- No motivation for your ex to sue you as you don't have much, and she will be paying her own legal fees
- Chance of keeping kids
- You pay for your kids college and support as you are able to and want to.