If you are going through a divorce, you might be feeling anxious about how to deal with spousal maintenance. Spousal maintenance, also known as alimony, is a payment that one spouse makes to the other after the divorce to help them maintain a similar standard of living as they had during the marriage. The amount and duration of spousal maintenance depend on various factors, such as the length of the marriage, the income and assets of each spouse, the age and health of each spouse, and the earning potential of each spouse.
The stereotypical spousal maintenance case is where one spouse stayed home with the kids while the other spent a decade or more advancing their career and now that there is a divorce the stay-at-home parent is going to fall off a financial cliff (because they have little or no income potential) unless the career spouse helps them out financially.
While it may be tempting to rush through negotiations and reach a quick agreement, taking a methodical approach to budgeting and comparing incomes and expenses can save you time, money, and potential regrets down the line, especially when figuring out spousal maintenance.
The Pitfalls of Cutting Corners:
When faced with the daunting prospect of divorce negotiations, it’s only natural to want to expedite the process. However, hastily reaching an agreement without delving into the intricacies of your financial situation can prove to be penny wise and pound foolish. By avoiding the necessary work and disregarding a comprehensive assessment of incomes and expenses, you risk making uninformed decisions that may later backfire.
Fear as a Driving Force:
One of the main reasons individuals may be inclined to cut corners is the fear of what their spouse might ask for in terms of spousal maintenance. This fear often leads to a desire for a quick resolution, even if it means sacrificing a thorough understanding of your or their financial situation. However, succumbing to this fear can be counterproductive and end up costing you more time, money, and emotional energy in the long run.
The Benefits of Methodical Budgeting:
Who wants to create a budget? Hardly anyone! But ask any Family Law Attorney and they will tell you that budgets are the key to figuring out spousal maintenance. Engaging in methodical budgeting and comparing incomes and expenses can yield numerous advantages during divorce negotiations.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the key benefits:
- Informed Decision-Making: By thoroughly understanding your financial circumstances, you gain the ability to make informed decisions regarding spousal maintenance. This ensures that any agreement reached is fair and reasonable, taking into account both parties’ needs and financial capabilities.
- Transparency and Trust: Demonstrating a commitment to a methodical approach fosters an atmosphere of transparency and trust during negotiations. By openly discussing and analyzing the financial aspects of the divorce, both parties are more likely to feel heard and respected, leading to a higher likelihood of reaching an amicable agreement.
- Long-Term Financial Stability: Rushing through negotiations without a comprehensive understanding of your financial situation may result in an unsustainable spousal maintenance arrangement. Taking the time to carefully evaluate incomes, expenses, and future financial prospects enables you to create a plan that promotes long-term financial stability for both parties involved.
- Minimized Legal Costs: While investing time and effort in methodical budgeting may seem time-consuming at first, it can significantly reduce overall legal costs. By proactively addressing financial concerns during negotiations, you reduce the need for repeated revisions and potentially costly legal interventions down the line.
Divorce negotiations are rarely easy, but by embracing a methodical approach to budgeting and comparing incomes and expenses, you can pave the way for a smoother and more satisfactory resolution. Rather than succumbing to the fear of what your spouse may ask for in spousal maintenance, investing the time and effort to fully understand the financial landscape can lead to a fair and reasonable agreement that benefits both parties in the long run. So, take a deep breath, roll up your sleeves, and embark on the journey towards a well-informed and amicable divorce settlement. Your future financial stability is worth the extra effort.
You should consult with a lawyer who can advise you on your legal rights and obligations regarding spousal maintenance. You should also consider working with a financial planner or Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA) who can help you create a realistic budget and plan for your future. You should also seek emotional support from your friends, family, or a therapist who can help you cope with the stress and anxiety of the divorce process.
By making informed and rational decisions about spousal maintenance, you can achieve a fair and reasonable outcome that respects both your and your spouse’s interests. You can also avoid unnecessary conflicts and drama that can prolong and complicate the divorce process. And most importantly, you can protect your well-being and happiness after the divorce. Remember, being penny wise and pound foolish rarely pays off in the complex realm of divorce negotiations.
Carl Arnold is an experienced family law attorney and mediator. He currently focuses his practice on Family Law Mediation (including child-inclusive mediation), Collaborative Divorce and Custody Evaluations. His office is in Northfield, Minnesota and he works with people from all over the state using Zoom. Carl has been a long-time member of the Collaborative Law Institute.