Tips for Negotiating Fair Alimony Payments
As more and more women join the workplace, alimony rates have dropped sharply. However, alimony may still be necessary in some situations. To reduce the stress and hassle associated with alimony negotiations, follow these tips.
Know the Legal Guidelines Around Alimony
Before you even begin negotiations, it is important to know what you can and cannot do. In Pennsylvania, the law only requires alimony in situations in which one spouse is dependent on the other. There is no set threshold for what counts as a dependency, but it usually involves one spouse paying for the majority of the other spouse’s living expenses.
It is possible for someone to receive support after splitting from his or her spouse but before the divorce is finalized. This alimony has to be calculated with a formula determined by Pennsylvania law. For alimony after a divorce, there is more leeway in how it is calculated. The couple can come to an agreement on their own, or the court will consider the alimony petition and decide for them. The court will consider things like:
- The length of the marriage
- Each spouse’s earning capacity
- Each spouse’s physical health
- The standard of living during the marriage
- Whether the custodial parent will be able to earn enough money
- How many personal assets each spouse has
Check Any Prenups You Signed
If you signed a prenuptial agreement, one of the first things to do is go over the document carefully with your divorce lawyer. In most cases, you will need to stick to your prenuptial agreement during the divorce. This is generally the fairest and simplest way of determining alimony. However, either one of the spouses can ask the court to throw out prenup alimony provisions. If the court determines that the prenup would destitute one of the spouses, it may be thrown out. You can also get a prenup thrown out if you can show that there were irregularities in creating the document.
Gather Information About All Parties’ Incomes, Assets and Expenses
A fair alimony negotiation depends primarily on taking a close look at both party’s finances. You will need to consider which assets are shared marital assets that will be split in the divorce and which assets are separately owned and that each spouse gets to keep. Next, take a look at how much each person earns. In addition to current salary, look at income potential. For example, a person who was a stay-at-home parent for 20 years may find it hard to get a high-paying job.
Figuring out how much money each person has can help you see whether you or your spouse needs alimony. In addition to income, you also need to evaluate needs. Look at each person’s lifestyle, and try to determine how much he or she would need for food, shelter and other essentials. Remember that each person should, ideally, have enough to keep up with the standard of living he or she had before the divorce.
Avoid Extremely Unfair Offers or Other Rude Behavior
When negotiating alimony, try to keep it focused on the facts. Talk about how much each partner makes, how much each individual needs and whether each person is legally entitled to alimony. Unfortunately, this is often easier said than done when emotions are involved. Divorces can be fairly complicated, and many people are tempted to use alimony as a way of resolving hurt feelings.
This can lead to issues like one party asking for an abnormally high amount of money or offering an insultingly low amount. Alimony negotiations can further devolve if partners start slinging accusations at each other, engaging in name-calling or involving children in arguments. If you are worried that personal feelings may get in the way of fair alimony, consider hiring a mediator or working with a lawyer that has experience with these types of matters. This can help your negotiations proceed more fairly.
If you want a fair and satisfactory alimony negotiation, you need talented divorce lawyers on your side. The Law Office of Joanne Kleiner is here in Jenkintown to help with alimony and other parts of a divorce. Call (215) 886-1266 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a consultation now.