Negotiating Alimony During Your Divorce

Negotiating Alimony During Your DivorceDivorce is a painful process that affects everyone involved. The entire process is emotionally taxing, and dividing assets can be financially painful. As the divorce progresses, one party may be required to make alimony payments to their ex-spouse. The amount of these payments is decided based on negotiations.

Negotiating alimony is complex and requires both sides to fully consider their finances, assets, overall income, and potential future income. If it is not an amicable divorce, there can be a lot of mistakes or emotional decisions that may impact one or both sides negatively. Here are some tips you can use to successfully negotiate a fair alimony agreement during your divorce.

What is alimony?

Alimony is a term that refers to payments that are ordered by the court to be made to a former spouse following a divorce or legal separation. The purpose of alimony is to give the lower-earning spouse income to support themselves following the dissolution of the relationship. In some cases, the lower-earning spouse may have very little income or potentially no income whatsoever.

Alimony, which is also called spousal support, can potentially be awarded to either a husband or wife. Though traditionally, men end up being the breadwinner, and women are the ones who are at a financial disadvantage. Either way, the person who makes less money is allowed, by law, to maintain the same quality of life they had when they were still married.

There are four types of alimony and spousal support in Tennessee:

  • Rehabilitative alimony. Sometimes alimony is granted to the lower-earning spouse as long as they are working to improve their employment opportunities. This means they can receive alimony as they pursue education or training and search for work. The payee is generally no longer obligated once their former spouse is able to support themselves.
  • Transitional alimony. This is awarded for a specific amount of time. It’s designed to help one self-sufficient spouse transition from married life to divorced life.
  • Alimony in futuro. This is typically long-term alimony. It usually lasts until the person receiving support gets married (or passes away), though the courts can actually set a specific set of factors for its discontinuation.
  • Alimony in solido. When people think of alimony, this is what they think of: one spouse paying the other essentially forever. In fact, alimony in solido must be paid even after the receiving spouse dies. For this reason, parties with significant assets may option to pay a lump sum award and be done with it.

Tips for negotiating alimony during your divorce

Now that you know exactly what types of alimony are available, you should learn how to negotiate a fair deal with your spouse. Regardless of whether you are on the paying or receiving end of alimony, the following advice can help.

Evaluate what resources are available

During divorce proceedings, both parties must disclose their financial earnings information to some extent. Make sure you acquire this information to determine what level of ability your spouse has to pay you or what resources they have available if you are the payer. Consider getting more information about these three things:

  • Any separate assets that your spouse has
  • Your spouse’s monthly income and expenses
  • Any additional income, such as benefits or bonuses

Note: Stock options have value, and there is a chance your spouse has collected large amounts of assets in these or retirement accounts.

Think about your financial needs

If you are the person seeking support, think about how much support you will actually need. Acknowledge the difference between your income and your spouse’s incomes, then think about the resources and assets you have available. At this point, come up with a number that seems reasonable as a monthly amount.

If you are the one who is paying, you may need to do the opposite. Look at your spouse’s total income and assets and think about what you would be able to pay to support them. Be sure to think about the fact that their lawyer may advise them to ask for a cost of living adjustment that rises each year. If you are not willing to accept such terms, be prepared to fight for them.

Do not hide assets

Hiding money is an irresponsible and illegal mistake that people think will get them out of paying some of their alimony. If you are caught hiding money and/or assets, there can be dire consequences for the divorce case. You may be ordered to pay even more if the judges decide that you have lost credibility and may also face criminal penalties.

Be specific about when the alimony terminates

If there is no set time for the alimony to end, you may be paying for the rest of your life. Your divorce agreement must be specific about when alimony ends. For example, many divorcees choose to have alimony end when a new marriage begins or when their ex-spouse starts earning a certain amount of income. Regardless of what you choose, make sure it is in writing.

No matter what side of the alimony negotiations you are on, the Franklin family law attorneys at the Law Offices of Adrian H. Altshuler & Associates can help. Call our office at 615-977-9370, or submit our contact form to schedule an appointment in Franklin, Columbia, or Brentwood today.