Q My wife and I are getting divorced after 30 years. We owned a business together, which we sold last year, and we both retired. We are only in our 50s, but we always wanted to retire when we were young enough to enjoy life. My Wife left me for another guy. I can probably afford to stay retired because I am fiscally conservative. When we first talked about the divorce, my Wife agreed we would divide everything in half and each waive alimony. But, suddenly, my wife is looking for alimony, saying that because she is a cancer survivor and there is a risk of recurrence, she cannot work but I need to return to work so that I can pay her alimony if she gets sick again.
It seems like she does not want me to pay now but wants assurance that I can pay later. Am I going to have to pay alimony if the cancer returns? Do I need to find a job?
A When you are working out a divorce agreement, the typical language in a complete alimony waiver is that “alimony is waived – past, present and future.” Right now, your wife does not have cancer. Right now, you are both retired. So, right now, you should be safe from an alimony order. Try to get her to agree to waive past and present alimony leaving the future open for modification should the need arise down the road.
Make sure the alimony part of your agreement merges, which means she can look for alimony down the road if she has a change in circumstances, such as the return of her cancer. This gets you off the hook, and you do not have to go back to work now. The longer you are retired, the harder time she will have getting you ordered back to work.
Also, you say she left you for another guy. If, down the road, she and this guy live together, she should not to be able to get alimony from you regardless of her changed circumstances, while living with him. Certainly if she were to remarry, even if that marriage ended in divorce, she could not come back to you for alimony.
While this may not be the answer you wanted to hear, even if your Wife were willing to waive future alimony, there are some judges in this state who would not approve such a waiver in a long term marriage without some specific consideration for the waiver. As yet, I have not been able to figure out what specific consideration, other than an additional cash payment, which is often not warranted or fair in such a settlement, would satisfy this additional requirement set by the judge.