Unfortunately, the best ways to avoid a spousal support obligation involve consideration of the issue prior to marriage. The best way to avoid an obligation to pay spousal support is to enter a premarital agreement in which the parties waive their rights to pursue spousal support in the case of divorce. If both parties are able to support themselves after the divorce, spousal support may not be an issue. Since an award of spousal support is based upon the payor spouse’s ability to pay and the payee spouse’s need, a support obligation may be avoided or lessened if both spouses are working and earning an income during the marriage.
A more difficult way to avoid paying spousal support is to prove the party seeking support is guilty of adultery which in most cases is a bar to support. However, adultery must be proven by clear and convincing evidence which is typically an uphill, expensive, and unpleasant battle.
Where one party earns significantly more than the other or where one spouse has stayed home to raise children, spousal support is likely to be an issue on the table. Courts consider a variety of factors in determining an award of spousal support. In a mediation, collaborative divorce or attorney-facilitated settlement, parties can come up with creative solutions for spousal support obligations and a party may be able to avoid a support obligation by creative division of marital assets or some other arrangement.