Friday, February 27, 2009

Alimony-- Craigslist to the Rescue

Craigslist has become known as a great Internet resource for buying and selling various goods and services. It is also a good place to look for a job or an employee. Apparently, a creative man has tried to find a way to save himself the money he spends each month on his ex-wife's alimony. Thanks to Robert M. Kisselburgh of the Mississippi Family Law blog for the following post:

"Man offers to pay for someone to marry ex-wife

"Imagine sitting at your computer and you are browsing the classified ads on Craigslist and suddenly you come across the following ad:

"'Nice well taken care of ex-wife. Mid 40's. Pretty and loyal. Never smoked and very little drinking. Will make someone a good companion (I know).... Will pay 10K to the man or woman who marries her in a way that stops me from having to pay her alimony.'

"There's the hitch. The man, trying to end his alimony payments to his ex-wife, is offering to pay a potential suitor to marry his ex-wife. Not being totally callous, the guy actually had some 'terms and conditions' for this transaction.

"'1. This transaction offer only valid if she is not aware of it.
2. Must treat her good, no abuse tolerated by me.
3. This offer is null and void if it is determined to be illegal in any way -- I am not a lawyer.
4. The end result must be that I am no longer liable to her for alimony and you make best effort to be good to her
5. This ad is not in any way intended to demean my ex-wife. She is a nice person and is a fine catch for anyone.'

"OOPS. I think the cat's out of the bag on condition #1. With news of the post hitting newspapers, she or some friends might find out. He might also have a problem with condition #3. At least he did not want to 'demean' his ex-wife in any way--what a guy.

"In Mississippi, if you are paying alimony to your ex, don't use this tactic to end the alimony. Not only will it fall flat in front of the judge, but you can be assured your ex will not find the humor in being marketed on Craigslist."

In Texas, there is a common misperception that there is no alimony. Actually, we can have a limited amount of alimony that can be court ordered, or the parties to a divorce can agreed to contractual alimony that is not as limited in either amount or duration. It is not unusual for a spouse to later regret an agreement to pay alimony that seemed like a good idea at the time.

A scheme like the one from the Mississippi blog is obviously doomed to failure, but so is almost any other plan to end alimony early. Alimony may have a lot of tax and income benefits for both parties and that's why we often use alimony in Collaborative cases and in other cases with substantial estates. What you should keep in mind is that an agreement for alimony should not be entered into lightly. The best course of action is for you and your attorney to work with a financial advisor to evaluate the tax consequences and to look for the best combination of settlement terms.

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