Quitting Job to Avoid Paying Alimony or Child Support

There is no single or easy answer, since asset distribution, alimony, child support and other forms of family support are determined based on the totality of each marriage’s unique individual circumstances. Before doing anything, if you are aware that you will—or least likely will—file divorce, you should consult with a family or matrimonial law attorney (also known as a divorce attorney), who can advise you as to how best to protect your and your children’s rights.

That said, as a general matter, what you propose is potentially very risky. Some forms of law, such as contractual law, tend to be very “black letter.” That means that they look to exactly what was promised or said, or what the circumstances are, without much regard to issues of fairness.

However, family law is NOT like that. In family law, issues of fairness—also known as “equitable issues”—loom very large. Family law courts look not just at the current situation of the soon-to-be ex-spouses, but also at how and why they ended up in those circumstances.

If someone lost his or her job for “legitimate” reasons—a restructuring, layoff, or reduction in force, for example, or had to give it up for blameless reason, such as to care for a sick child or parent, or due to his or her own health issues, then courts may be sympathetic and would weigh that spouse’s need in the balance when deciding on distributions and support.

However, if someone leaves a viable job shortly before filing for divorce in what is—or can be readily painted as—a transparent attempt to increase the support he or she would receive, courts would NOT look at that sympathetically. It would rather be seen as not just an attempted fraud on the other spouse, but even almost a fraud on the courts themselves. Not only is it highly unlikely that it would result in enhanced support, but it could be weighed against that person in ordering support, distribution of assets, or even potentially in deciding on child custody.

Consult with a family or matrimonial lawyer before doing anything. A general rule, though, is this: if YOU would feel and could easily argue that something is unfair, there’s a good chance the other side and the court will feel the same way.