Divorce is a difficult subject. While some couples find a way to split amicably without much hostility and resentment, for others, emotions can boil over, and the couple may fight bitterly over every piece of marital property. Alimony is one of the most common points of contention in divorce. If you expect to split from your spouse soon, you should have some idea of what to expect concerning alimony negotiations, your potential financial liability to your spouse, or his or her financial liability to you following the end of your marriage.
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What Is Alimony?
Alimony, also called spousal support, is money paid on a set schedule from one divorced spouse to his or her ex to compensate the financial differences between them. For example, if one spouse earned significantly more money than the other during marriage and the couple divorces, the higher-earning spouse will likely pay alimony following the divorce so the lower-earning spouse can meet personal living expenses and find reasonable living arrangements.
The court will assess each divorcing spouse’s personal finances, separate property and assets, and financial need for support in making alimony determinations. Of course, it is possible to reach a mutual agreement with your spouse concerning alimony if you are diplomatic and reasonable in your negotiations.
For more information on alimony settlements and its implications in San Mateo county, visit our page on alimony.
Tips for Alimony Negotiations
If you are divorcing from your spouse, both of you have the right to know about each other’s finances. You must disclose personal financial records including bank statements, investment account details, retirement accounts, and any other proof of your personal financial situation. Your spouse must do the same. Each of your attorneys will review the other party’s financial situation to come up with reasonable estimates for alimony payments.
When you are the one to receive alimony, it is essential to have your attorney accurately verify your personal need for support and carefully review your spouse’s personal financial information. This helps ensure you negotiate for an appropriate amount of alimony. If you are the one who will need to pay alimony to an ex-spouse, your attorney must ensure you do not wind up paying more than you should.
- Be honest. Attempting to hide assets to pay less alimony than you owe can lead to significant legal issues later. You may even face criminal fraud charges and wind up paying your ex even more than you would have if you had been honest.
- Be agreeable. Emotions and tensions can easily run high in any divorce negotiations but keeping your cool and staying reasonable is the best way to reach a fair settlement. If your ex attempts to goad you into an argument, try to defuse the situation.
- Assert your needs. Ensure your attorney has your best interests in mind if you either intend to receive or pay alimony. You should not roll over and pay more or receive less than you should, and your attorney should have the skill and resources to assist you in ensuring this.
- Account for the future. Most alimony agreements include clauses for rate changes after certain amounts of time. For example, your ex may only require spousal support for a few months while he or she prepares to start working on his or her own, whereas an ex-spouse with a disability or significant medical complications may require more support for longer.
- Prepare for tax implications. The recent changes in the tax code affected alimony and spousal support payments in a significant way. Consult with your attorney and an accountant about your potential tax liability changes following your divorce.
Ultimately, divorce is rarely easy and negotiating a fair alimony agreement can present an enormous challenge. The right mindset and an experienced divorce attorney in San Mateo, or surrounding areas, will be your best assets when it comes to ensuring a fair alimony agreement with your ex.