Ask a Divorce Lawyer: Is there any way to not pay alimony?

Question: Is there any way to not pay alimony? I currently pay $365 a month for 48 months (already paid 18 months) in alimony in addition to my ex-wife getting $635 a month in child support for one child. She got the residence, all the furnishings, and half of my 401k. She’s constantly going on trips, made many home improvements, and keeps buying new furniture and appliances. She makes just as much money as me. But here I am constantly working overtime just to make ends meet because I’m paying her so much. I am curious to know if it would cost me more to get out of the payments or if it would be cheaper to just bite the bullet and pay her off?


Answer: If you were in my jurisdiction, my first question would be whether or not there has been a substantial change in either of your financial situations since the date of the divorce.   I do not practice in Tennessee, therefore, you should contact a domestic litigation attorney in Tennessee who can tell you whether or not there are statutes which would allow you to go back to court to modify the amount you are paying in alimony.

In Wisconsin, if there has been a substantial change in circumstances for the payer or the payee of alimony (we call it maintenance), then either party can motion the court to modify the support.  Depending on the circumstances, the court could then modify the amount, hold the amount open for a period of time, or cancel the payments all together.  But, each state has different laws relating to modification of alimony. 

In addition to state laws relating to alimony, the attorney would also want to review the Order for maintenance.  The payments may have been ordered as non-modifiable, and therefore you have to continue paying unless either of you dies. 

Because alimony is so state specific, you should contact a domestic litigation attorney licensed in Tennessee who can review your situation to determine whether anything can be done to lower or eliminate the support payments.


Erica Christian is an Associate Attorney in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, office of Cordell & Cordell, P.C. She is licensed to practice law in the state of Wisconsin. She is a member of the Wisconsin Bar Association, the Family Law Section and the Children’s Law Section.

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2 comments on “Ask a Divorce Lawyer: Is there any way to not pay alimony?

    I have a neighbor who is married for approximately 23 years. He is in the process of getting divorced, they both live in California. They both work and make about the same amount of money. She filled for alimony. Does he have to pay her? Can he file for alimony? No children or property is involved.

    Do you have to pay spousal support or alimony if only married 5 months and wife left me and we have no kids no house together. She had job when married but quit. Left me several times within the 5 month marriage???

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