Monday, September 16, 2013

The Answer Broad: Alimony & You: A Primer

I’ve been divorced for about 12 years. My ex-husband married the woman he was seeing during the last years of our marriage. Now, he has become a minister.

He recently told me that all of his money needs to go to the church, so he can’t pay me alimony anymore. I’m doing OK without his money, so I decided to just let it slide.

My (now grown) kids are furious. They say that legally he owes me this money and that I need to talk to my lawyer. I guess it would be nice to have the money, but wouldn’t I be stealing it from a church?

-Stealing from the collection plate

I can certainly understand wanting to be done with an ex, and just not wanting to fight anymore.

However, in this case? Go after your damned money!

If your ex has a legal obligation to pay you alimony, it’s not up to him and it’s not up to you to change that obligation. You need to go to court to change that obligation. That’s just good recordkeeping. Oh, and it’s how The Law works.

Secondly, using the church as an excuse not to pay you funds to which he is legally obligated is slimy. Like, slimy in a sweaty-televangelist-robbing-old-ladies kind of way. Seriously. You’re telling me that your husband cheated on you, you guys divorced, he married his mistress, and now he’s all holier-than-thou and hiding behind a church as an excuse shirk his obligations? And you’re agreeing to let him do this?

Honey. No.

You might not need the money right now, but we could all use a nest egg. Tuck it away for retirement or your grandkids’ college funds. Based on his stellar moral record, I sincerely doubt that by not paying you alimony, your ex is donating that exact amount to his church. And even if he is, he’s getting a tax benefit from the charitable giving. From a karmic standpoint, it’s a disaster. Don’t be a part of it.

Stick to the straight and narrow. Let your ex know that you – and the state – still expect alimony. Give your lawyer a heads-up, and be prepared to go to court if necessary.

And if you’re really torn up about “stealing” from a church? Donate the alimony to the charitable organization of your choice – preferably one that has nothing to do with your ex.

If there was a problem, yo, I’ll solve it. Or at least write thoughtfully about it. Email The Answer Broad at

The Answer Broad is only licensed to operate a standard motor vehicle. However, she will gladly ruminate on life’s ups and downs with you. By submitting a question, you’re giving permission to publish it anonymously. The Answer Broad would never, ever reveal your identifying information.


  1. This cannot possibly be a real question. Can it???

  2. Yes, at least talk to your lawyer and find out your options. That said, if you're doing OK without his money, a judge may decide you have no more financial need. I think this depends on the state you're in and the type of alimony you're getting. You may be in for a major court case. Your ex is sure to come up with other arguments why he needs the money (donating it to the church is a pretty ridiculous one though). But it's certainly worth a try. I don't think he gets to unilaterally change the conditions of the divorce agreement. A sternly worded letter from your lawyer might be enough to make him reconsider. Good luck!

  3. I would fight like hell(no pun intended) for that alimony!

  4. Excellent response - the church excuse makes me ill.

  5. "[S]limy in a sweaty-televangelist-robbing-old-ladies kind of way."

  6. Excellent advice! Just let me add this...If you had stayed married you would share in whatever retirement Mr. Have MY Cake and Eat It too was entitled to. Think of alimony as your backup retirement plan and invest it so you have a cushion for a rainy day or God forbid long term illness, loss of employment, long term care of elderly (or yourself). There are NO guarantees and you need to protect your long range living. There does not need to be a guilt trip that "THE CHURCH" needs YOUR alimony. He is a snake to even suggest it.

    PS...The year he cheated on you is complete and total justification. You KNOW he gave HER some of YOUR $$$ during that time.

  7. I'm a PK (preacher's kid). I work in a church office. My take on this? He's a snake, and the advice of everyone above (plus, of course, the Answer Broad) is right-on-the-money.

  8. Amen!! That is yours and no way is this a valid reason!

  9. Maybe yes, going after the money legally would be smart. But part of me is with the OP, if she doesn't need it, then maybe it's better to be untainted with it.

    ReplyDelete's our secret.