If you’re going through a divorce, the financial hurdles can seem overwhelming. Dividing up assets and co-parenting is tough. If you’re wondering what is alimony? We’re here to help.
This guide has everything you need to know about alimony and spousal support. We’ll go over how to evaluate your resources and make sure everyone’s needs are met. Let’s jump into how negotiating alimony works.
What Is Alimony?
The court ordered payments given to a former spouse in a divorce or separation agreement is known as alimony. This money provides support and financial resources to the spouse who makes less money.
In some marriages, one spouse doesn’t earn any income at all. In order for the spouse to remain at the quality of life, they had while married, alimony is awarded. In some cases, this is the husband and in other cases, it’s the wife.
Alimony will often be used to support a spouse who has taken care of the children full time without earning an income. This spouse is at a disadvantage during a divorce.
How Does Alimony Work?
Alimony refers to a pre-determined lump sum or set payments over time. Alimony payments will end when a spouse dies or if the spouse receiving payments remarries.
The court can also set a date on which payments end. This could allow for a spouse to find employment or for kids to graduate from college, for example.
While alimony is often given to spouses who have been married for a long period of time, it doesn’t have to be. In cases where a couple is only married for two years and have two children, alimony could still be awarded. Note that alimony is different than child support.
Evaluate Your Resources
Alimony is set after looking at the earning potential of both spouses. The court will look at how much each spouse is earning now and what their income growth could be.
How long your marriage was also comes into play. If you both have high earning careers, with upward potential, you may not need to negotiate alimony payments.
If one spouse makes no income and you were together for over ten years, alimony payments are likely. These can be regular payments for the long haul or one-time lump sums.
Your resources are evaluated and both parties are required to divulge income and asset statements. The court will look at your stocks, bank accounts, cars, homes, and retirement savings.
Even if one spouse is the clear breadwinner, both need to divulge assets and share their information from before they were together. This is done so that you can both know for certain what each of you has together and apart.
Alimony Payments and Your Income and Expenses
Your income and joint expenses will also come into play during alimony negotiations. You’ll both need to fill out a spreadsheet or expense report of everything you have together and alone.
The court is trying to reach a fair arrangement for both of you. The working spouse shouldn’t support a gambling habit if the spouse isn’t trying to become self-sufficient.
This is where you’ll want to show everything you pay for. You’ll also want to keep your spouse honest about expenses and income. It’s also important to remember that you’ll now have two separate households to support.
Determine Your Needs
One of the most important parts of negotiating alimony is determining your needs. Think about what you currently need financial support with. Look long-term as well.
As the spouse paying alimony you also need to think about your future. Think about how supporting someone long-term will look. A lump-sum payment could make more sense depending on your needs.
If you don’t have children, for example, but you hope to have children in the future, this could affect the alimony you pay. Paying alimony for ten years while also supporting children with a new spouse may no longer be feasible.
Your lawyer can help you navigate what you need. No matter which side you’re on, alimony needs to be fair for you.
Healthcare and benefits are additional needs to consider. If one of you doesn’t have healthcare this could factor into your alimony.
It’s important to note that child support and alimony aren’t the same things. Child support goes directly towards child-rearing expenses. Alimony is only meant to support your former spouse.
If you have children, alimony and child support are negotiated individually. These payments could adjust, however, as kids grow up and if a spouse becomes remarried.
Hiring a professional divorce attorney is key when negotiating alimony. You need someone who can help you navigate the process.
Your divorce attorney also has your best interests at heart. They want to make sure you’re fairly represented during alimony negations.
Your attorney will work on a solution that’s fair to you. This means they will want to protect your financial future as well. Alimony can last for years and it’s important you have the right agreement.
A Divorce Lawyer Can Help You Reach a Fair Settlement
Divorce is tough and confusing to navigate. If you’re wondering what is alimony and how do I negotiate it? You don’t have to do it alone.
Your attorney can help you through the entire process. They will help make sure you reach a settlement that’s fair today and in the future. You want to be protected for years to come, no matter which side of the negotiating table you’re on.
If you’re ready to get in touch with an experienced attorney, fill out the contact form here. You’ll be one step closer to starting your new chapter.
Angela Elliot Frazier is a Family Law Attorney who practices in Greenville, SC. She graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law, and has been practicing law for 14 years now. Angela Frazier believes in helping you through one of the most stressful times of your life. Learn more about her experience by clicking here.