Alimony is not an entitlement. Ultimately, it is up to the discretion of the judge to decide on the final amounts so you might find yourself in a position where you do have to pay spousal support, sometimes more than you want to. Income is not the only criteria to decide on alimony or spousal support amounts. This depends on over a dozen factors in most states. As important as income is the spousal need. However, if you have done all your groundwork right and worked with good divorce attorneys and a reliable divorce mediator, you should end up with a fair deal.
Hiring a professional
DIY divorces may seem like a good idea at the time, saving you any outflow on lawyers. A caveat here is that while you could navigate the complicated filing yourself, the next steps aren’t as easy as you would imagine. negotiations are something experienced divorce attorneys are well trained in and extremely good at. They will serve your best interests at the negotiating table and will not let emotions derail the process. Without their counsel and skill, you may actually end up paying more in spousal support the long run and wipe out any savings you might have made during the divorce process.
Get a divorce attorney you can trust
Soldiering on with a divorce attorney or team you don’t think is good enough is not a good idea. If you feel your attorney is not what you expected or is incompetent – switch. Fail to do that and you may end up with a raw deal on spousal support and find yourself bogged down with huge payments. A divorce attorney who doesn’t have your best interests at heart will happily stand by and watch divorce mediation deteriorate waiting for the case to head to courts to rack up big legal bills for you.
Work with a divorce mediator
A divorce mediator will help you work out the gray areas. While basics like rent, food and clothing will be taken care off, it is the ‘extras’ like out of pocket medical expenses that you will need to negotiate on. By deciding on these areas out of court, you are much more in control and have a say in the final agreement. Not to mention the saved legal expenses. If you take your case to court, you will need to leave the decision on alimony to the discretion of the judge and lose that control you have.
Don’t forget about the taxman
There’s a third person in this divorce who is often ignored when working through financials. Be sure to consider all tax implications of whatever arrangement you come to on spousal support. If you don’t you may find yourself paying crippling amounts of taxes and living off very little even though the actual spousal support amount was what you had agreed on to begin with..
Discuss a time limit or other alimony options
Explore the option of temporary alimony to help you spouse get back into the workforce or stabilize financially. In some cases, a lump sum alimony may be what works better for you – discuss this option with your divorce attorney and financial adviser. Agree on a timeframe for alimony payment even if it is not court mandated.
Think of alternatives
You don’t always need to pay out huge sums in spousal support if you can come to some other agreement,. For instance, your spouse may be okay to accept a lower or temporary alimony if they get to keep the family home.
Gerald A. Maggio is an experienced Orange County divorce and family law attorney and family law attorney located in Irvine, California, serving the Orange County and Riverside areas. Mr. Maggio assists clients with legal issues including divorce, legal separation, divorce mediation, child custody, prenuptial agreements, stepparent adoptions, and other family law issues. Mr. Maggio has practiced law in California since 1999, and founded The Maggio Law Firm in 2005, focusing exclusively on divorce and family law matters.