I've yet to meet someone excited to pay alimony, but I have had clients or prospective clients that are not interested in receiving alimony. It's interesting because as a divorce lawyer, my first instinct is to try and get the best deal I can for every client. Our firm is cognizant that there are many emotional components to a divorce (and that yes, legal fees and court costs must be considered) but we still generally shoot for a good deal for a client. In sum, we try everything we can to help our clients to a larger slice of the marital pie. But here's the thing....
Not every client wants the best deal they can get.
And here's another shocker:
Not everyone who is entitled to alimony wants to receive alimony.
I know this seems inconceivable (or a cruel joke) to those who are paying alimony or who will soon be paying alimony, but I have had several clients wish to waive alimony.
Can You Waive Alimony?
Surprisingly, so long as you are a competent adult and you are not acting under duress, you may waive alimony. Interestingly, you cannot waive child support if your children are entitled to it because child support rights ultimately belong to your children (who are generally minors) and the state has an interest in a minor receiving a base line of support (also, as they are minors they cannot appear in court on their own behalf as they are not old enough to contract).
You can waive alimony in return for a larger share of equitable distribution. You can waive alimony because you do not wish to be tethered to your ex any longer. You may waive alimony because it is against your moral code.
And if you really feel like it....you can waive alimony for no reason at all.
Waiving Alimony May Not Be a Good Idea
As a divorce lawyer, I feel I have to add this section to this blog post. Look, if you're entitled to alimony and the other party is not offering you something of equal value for waiving it, then you should probably not waive alimony. If the other side had the ability to collect alimony from you I bet they would not waive that right. When a client tells me they want to waive alimony I generally tells them the pros and the cons (there are often way more cons) and then ultimately they will have to make their own decision.
I also become concerned that people waiving alimony are waiving the flag because of some sort of undue influence, a history of domestic violence, or are simply worn down by the process.
Once you waive alimony, it becomes very difficult (or even impossible) to go back and later request alimony. There may be what is known as "Anti-Lepis" language stating that the waiver is permanent and irrevocable. Even if the other party wins the lottery and you lose your job the day after the agreement is finalized, it will be virtually impossible to go back and seek the alimony you were entitled to.
In other words.....be very careful about waiving alimony. Particularly if you're waiving it for nothing in return (or something that is not commensurate with what you are giving up).
So I hope this blog post helped answer the question "can you waive alimony." There is a lot to consider regarding alimony and any potential waiver of alimony. Like always, these are fact-sensitive issues that you will need to discuss with a New Jersey divorce lawyer.
To schedule an appointment with one of our lawyers, call 908-237-3096.