A woman while going through her divorce proceeding said “Marriage is about love. Divorce is about money.” This holds true in most cases. Alimony is one of the key money matters that have to be negotiated and settled so that both the ex-spouse’s can sustain a respectable lifestyle as close as possible.
Alimony after a divorce has been the butt of many jokes, although it was never a matter of laughing. Conscientious negotiations will eventually lead to reasonableness and will permit each of the partners’ a chance to live their own separate lives.
Be thankful that you are able to negotiate and maintain some control over the situation. It is quite likely that you or your partner will be less satisfied with what they receive out of the settlement, which is most likely to be lesser than what they were possibly expecting. In the long run, you should always prefer to make successful negotiations.
The concept of alimony roots back to the English times when husbands were ordered to provide support for their wives after a divorce. It was so because women were not allowed to own property or earn a living and hence they were dependent on their partners.
Things have changed since then, and women have become more self-sufficient and are not required to rely on the alimony amount completely. Alimony is no longer a gender issue but creates problems for partners with fewer resources.
The laws which govern alimony vary in states. Usually, the concepts of alimony are more supportive to the less advantaged spouse and support them to contribute in the alimony to their ex-spouse.
So, how would negotiate for a good alimony after divorce? Here are some tips that may help you to ease the process:
#1. Know Your Income Before Demanding the Price
Income comes in many shapes and sizes. You must know your monthly income clearly because all the negotiations will be done on a monthly basis. Do not get into the trap of multiplying your paychecks times, because it’ll get you in trouble. Get financial help if you don’t understand how the cheque games work. It will be greatly helpful if you know the whereabouts of your income tax returns. Your income will establish the outcome of alimony negotiations.
If you or your partner own a small business or have a source of second income, the business records will be examined to determine the alimony. Any hidden incomes in the form of personal benefits will be considered as “imputed income.”
Companies these days have been including Executive Savings Plans, Stock Options, Stock Appreciation Units and Restricted Stock and should be considered as a part of your income. Income and personal expenses are the determinants of each spouse’s income and reflect on their capability to meet the needs of the other.
#2. Include Your Personal Expenses
As part of the alimony negotiations, both the partners will be required to provide a comprehensive list of their personal expenses (post-divorce). To do the following, one must be able clearly to determine their living expenses while they were married and decide what all remains unchanged after the divorce takes place. This is said to be one of the most challenging tasks during the process of divorce.
Both the partners must carefully include all their foreseeable expenses which should be realistically accurate. The expenses of the spouse (who receives the alimony) should be met because it is the requested alimony of the partner. If you underestimate your living expenses, you won’t be able to pay the bills, ultimately ruining your financial records. Also, the expenses of the alimony payer should also be complete in order to determine their needs on the basis of which their income will be shared with the ex-spouse.
While making a list of your expenses make sure you add the important ones like insurance premiums, auto maintenance, home repairs, travel, pet care, medical expenses. You can also include reoccurring expenses like mortgage, utilities, and food which can vary from time to time. You need to have a thorough inventory of all the expenditures of the past year to estimate your current cost of living.
Be realistic about your expenses and keep your demands reasonable to sustain the alimony deposits in your bank account. If your negotiations still become difficult, then consult a professional who can analyze your complete marital lifestyle.
#3. Hire A Good Attorney
An attorney is a complicated matter, and therefore you need assured guidance. Choose an attorney who specializes in family law. Ask them multiple questions regarding their experience, degrees, practice and similar stuff to satisfy yourself. Your attorney will be your negotiator and will “have it all figured out.” You may need to start from scratch and let your professional negotiator put his practice to use. This is not the right time to cut your teeth on a new skill, let them handle it for you.
#4. Consider The Future
While deciding on your alimony amount, you need to take into consideration your future security, i.e., for a longer term or at least till your alimony expires. The payer needs to be sure of his/her future income, which is good enough to sustain their future needs. As per the payee is concerned, they need to consider the fact that only inflammation can cause a change in process, but it won’t affect the alimony and only a reduction in the daily expenses will be their savior.
Few of the factors that usually influence the amount of alimony are the ages of the parties, their health, and an estimate of their working and retirement conditions. Signing in for alimony requires you to understand what the future has to offer. An anticipation of these issues will prepare you well about the concepts of what retirement will look like for the both of you.
#5. Do Not Anticipate Complete Satisfaction
Alimony is a negotiation, and a negotiation can never be completely satisfying because it is a compromise. Do not dig your heels in and refuse to compromise because something is always better than nothing. The point of agreement is sure to deviate from what you initially planned (either side). Neither of you will be completely satisfied with what you finally settle on.
If you are lucky enough to process a healthy negotiation, the agreement will include equal gains and losses for both the parties. For every loss that you incur, you will surely gain something. A mutually beneficial trade-off may not give you everything that you desired but is more likely to be satisfying as it yields the best possible outcomes.
An alimony negotiation will be considered successful only if the goal of reaching consensus was achieved.
#6. Do Not Take Alimony As A Punishment
Alimony is just a settlement not a punishment for your sins. Looking at it from a financial perspective, “who did what to whom” or “why we need this divorce in the first place” should have no place in your alimony negotiations. It is advisable to keep your personal conflicts separate from your alimony negotiations. Keeping the two things separate may be difficult for some, but then it is called “separate issues” for a reason.
#7. Do Not Assume Things
Alimony after a divorce has nothing OKAY about it. You cannot assume things to be done or achieved until you have negotiated them or have asked for them in writing. While negotiating, make sure you consider future events and contingencies, including death.
If you are the potential payer, then sign for an amount that you are certain to keep paying in the future as well. Give yourself recourse in the event of loss of job or illness or any such material changes, under the supervision of your attorney. It is most likely that your obligation will cease with your death which implies that your estate will have no obligations. Your death will not eliminate your ex’s need for support.
If you are the payee or recipient of the alimony, you definitely need to protect yourself against any such uncertain and unfortunate loss of support (financial). Any such loses will be mitigated by an addition in the division of marital property.
As protection against the death of your ex-spouse, you can negotiate for a life insurance policy on the payer's life with you as the beneficiary. The insurance policy will replace the future alimony payments that were left unpaid.
#8. Do Not Consider It As A Do-It-Yourself Project
Divorce is no lesser than a storm that wrecks your happy life. Once you sign for divorce, all you are left with is a number of complicated legal issues with more complicated tax rules and intricate exceptions to the same. The emotional turmoil is just an icing on the cake. It is observed that even the otherwise intelligent people experience a brain freeze during divorce.
You will have to specify your needs while agreeing for alimony. It can be Transitional, Rehabilitative, in solido (sometimes with variations), or in futuro. Each type has its own guidelines and rules under which it will be enforced. These are not negotiable, as they are the law.
Do you think it is difficult to negotiate for a Good Alimony after Divorce? Let us know in the comment section below.