Clarification of Answer by
02 Apr 2006 15:22 PDT
Alimony and property division are both highly subjective decisions,
making it impossible to predict what might happen in your case. I
have gathered some additional resources below explaining why this is
the case and what factors are usually considered.
I have learned that New York does not offer "no fault" divorces,
making it particularly unattractive, and that Connecticut includes
alimony in 25% of divorces, which is well above the national average.
"Divorce" Wikipedia (April 1, 2006)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divorce#United_States. However, the
differences between most states tend to be subtle, and judges have
enormous discretion to arrive at what they consider to be a "fair"
agreement in "equitable distribution" states.
Unfortunately, I have not been able to locate any resources which
would indicate that a particular state is the best one for a wealthy
person to get divorced in. There is sufficient uniformity among the
states that, aside from avoiding community property states, factors
regarding residency and waiting periods are likely to be the deciding
factors. The availability of a no fault divorce is also likely to be
desirable, unless you will be seeking to assign fault to your spouse.
Most states will require you to live there for some time prior to
granting a divorce, so I would start with states where I might want to
live that are not community property states (states other than
Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas,
Washington, and Wisconsin), use the links I have provided to read
those states' divorce statutes, and then follow up with a divorce
lawyer located in those states that interest you to understand any
Nationally, alimony is awarded in only about 15% of divorces or
separations. "Alimony/Maintenance" ABA
"The purpose of alimony is to avoid any unfair economic consequences
of a divorce, even after property is divided and child support, if
any, is awarded. Courts set few specific guidelines to attaining this
broad goal: instead of telling judges how and when to award alimony,
most courts simply grant them broad discretion to decide what is fair
in each case."
"No mathematical guidelines exist to tell courts how to calculate
alimony. In addition, each state legislature sets its own policy
regarding whether and when alimony may be awarded.
The Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act (UMDA), which many states use as
a model, recommends that courts consider the following factors:
The financial condition of the person requesting alimony;
The time the recipient would need for education or job training;
The standard of living the couple had during the marriage;
The length of the marriage;
The age, physical condition, and emotional state of the person requesting alimony;
The ability of the other person to support the recipient and still
support himself or herself."
"What is Alimony?" West's Encyclopedia of Law
"Each state's law specifies a set of factors for a judge to consider
in granting alimony. Although these factors vary from state to state,
they typically include the following:
The standard of living of the parties (higher means more alimony).
The ability of the payer to pay (more means more alimony).
The parties' reasonable needs under the circumstances.
The income and property of each party.
The duration of the marriage (longer means more alimony).
The age and health of both parties.
The present and future earning capacity of both parties.
The ability of the party seeking maintenance to be self supporting,
how long that will take, and what training will be required.
Any reduced or lost lifetime earning capacity as a result of having
foregone or delayed education, training, employment, or career
opportunities during the marriage.
The presence of children in the respective homes of the parties.
The tax consequences to each party.
The contributions as parent, wage earner, homemaker, and to career or
career potential of the other party.
The wasteful spending of marital property by either spouse (the
spender is penalized).
Any giving away of marital property before the divorce filing (the one
who gave it away is penalized).
Cohabitation of the recipient spouse, as it affects his or her needs."
"Finance - Alimony Alternatives" Family Law Software, Inc. (2006)
"Will the division of property and potential spousal support be
affected by whether or not I obtain a fault or no-fault divorce?
That depends on the state. In some states the court can consider the
spouses' faults in deciding how to distribute property and provide
spousal support. In a no fault divorce situation, the actions of the
respective spouses in the breakdown of the marriage do not affect
property distribution or spousal support rights."
"Tables Summarizing the Law in the Fifty States"
http://www.abanet.org/family/familylaw/tables.html show which states
allow fault to play a role in determination of alimony.
"What is ?equitable distribution??
Most states employ "equitable distribution" in dividing marital
(community) property as a result of the dissolution of marriage
(divorce). Instead of a strict fifty-fifty split (in which each spouse
receives exactly one-half of the marital or separate property),
equitable distribution looks at the financial situation that each
spouse will be in after the termination of the marriage. While
equitable distribution is more flexible, it is harder to predict the
actual outcome, since the various factors are subjectively weighed.
Factors considered in equitable distribution include:
1. Earning power of the spouses (one might be much greater than the other)
2. Separate property of the spouses (one might be greater in value than the other)
3. One spouse having done all the work to acquire the property
4. The value that one spouse contributed as the home-maker for the family
5. Economic fault of one spouse in wasting and dissipating marital property
6. Duration of the marriage
7. Age and relative health of the spouses
8. The responsibility for providing for children of the marriage
9. Spousal abuse or marital infidelity (to penalize the offending spouse)."
"Each state?s divorce laws set forth mandatory "factors" judges must
consider before making an equitable property division or awarding
alimony. Some states also have "discretionary" factors courts may
consider. Here are some mandatory "factors" incorporated into most
state laws. Ask you lawyer for a copy of your state?s statute.
Length of the marriage
Age, health, occupation of the parties
Station in life and life-style
Liabilities and needs
Contribution to the marital estate (economic, domestic, child-rearing, etc.)
Assets and liabilities, sources and amount of income
Behavior of the parties during the marriage
Vocational skills, employability"
"Definition of Equitable Distribution" DivorceNet (July 17, 2004)
"Property Division by State" DivorceNet
provides links to information about property division for most states,
although some have more information than others.