The spousal support side of divorce is a tricky one to navigate. When a judge reviews either side of an alimony litigation, the laundry list of factors they consider is not only exhaustive but specific. Leaving your financials in the court’s hands to sort through might not be the most preferable route if you really want to fight for your future—and that’s something you probably want to do.
At the end of the day, you need to be realistic about your future and know what you need. Alimony can have a major impact on the next few steps of your life if you negotiate successfully.
Read on to learn more about what to expect from alimony negotiations and a few helpful tips for mounting an aggressive and effective position.
Tip #1: Know the Types of Alimony and Which One Fits Your Situation
There are a few different types of alimony to know ahead of any negotiations that might give you an idea of what you may need.
Rehabilitative Alimony: this is the most commonly awarded type 1 alimony. It lasts for a set amount of time in coordination with how long it will take the receiving spouse to support themselves. This might coincide with completing school, finding a job, undergoing job training, and so on. Depending on your need, it could last as long as 3-10 years.
Alimony Pendente Lite: this is a type of alimony that lasts between your filing for divorce and the finalization of your divorce. In essence, pendente lite keeps you at the same level of financial stability you grew accustomed to during your marriage—that is, if your spouse was the primary wage earner between you two.
Indefinite Alimony: as the name suggests, indefinite alimony has no specific end date. In the rare occasion the courts award this type of alimony, they most likely came to a decision based on the recipient’s age, health (mental or physical), or whether there is a severe and noticeable difference in living standards between spouses.
Start your negotiation planning by understanding which type of alimony works best for you in the long run that you can realistically fight for in court. Also, consider what your spouse may be open to discussing, too. In most cases, there is a good chance they will not be as open to something like indefinite alimony unless absolutely necessary.
Maryland is an equitable distribution state, meaning spouses are entitled to property distribution that is fair to both. This might seem subjective, but if there are issues during negotiations, there is a chance you will end up having a judge decide what is fair for you.
Tip #2: Know Your Spouse’s Assets Ahead of Negotiation
To negotiate effectively, you need to know your spouse’s assets.
Why? If you do not have the complete picture of the support your spouse can provide, chances are you will not get the support you need.
In divorce, there is a heavy emphasis on disclosing as much as possible during the discovery process to ensure equitable distribution. There are marriages where both spouses are equally involved in their family’s finances, and somewhere, only one spouse handles the upkeep. If the latter case applies to you, then you’ll want to be as thorough as possible in collecting information about your spouse’s assets.
Any non-marital property and separate assets should top that list—these are the things your spouse may keep hold of through the divorce. Something to note: if you and your spouse lived together before marriage, any property purchased or acquired back then is not considered marital property.
Income and expenses should come next. If you need it, request the following:
Tax return information;
Loan statements and applications;
Insurance information, policy statements;
Information about pension or stock option benefits; or
Anything related to debts or liabilities.
Any hard documents detailing monthly income and expenses, too, are crucial to know exactly where the money comes from and where it goes. Keep a watchful eye for excess spending on entertainment, non-essential items, luxury purchases, or any other frivolous expenditures. These types of vulnerabilities may help you in your negotiation efforts.
Divorce requires a lot of emotional energy. It may be difficult to dig for your ex-spouse’s financial information to use against them. However, you need to keep in mind the before-and-after. Going from being married and sharing assets to divorced and having less is a drastic change; recognize what your needs may be and negotiate a way to mitigate future financial stressors.
Tip #3: Know What Form of Alimony You Need
There are a few ways a spouse can award alimony based on the court’s order. However, we will focus on two that sit in contention: lump-sum and periodic payment.
With lump-sum, you receive the entire alimony obligation at once, whereas periodic payments occur every month until your spouse fulfills the order.
There are some issues with lump-sum that make it a particularly turbulent form of alimony. For one, a lump sum payment all at once might not be as fair if you consider inflation over 3-plus years. Your spouse might also raise the issue of periodic alimony payments ending earlier than their prescribed term because of remarriage and not wanting to overpay for alimony in those regards. For you, though, a lump sum might be the best chance at retaining full alimony without having to suspend it just because you remarried.
The debate between lump-sum and periodic alimony may be something you encounter in your negotiations. With any matters, it is important to counsel liberally with your attorney to determine what is best for you. At every turn in the process, they will be there to help you seek the most equitable solution for your future.
As a final note, do not put alimony on the highest pedestal. In divorce, there are many ways to negotiate property distribution that does not start and stop at alimony. You will also want to look into child support, custody, and any other type of settlement you may attempt reaching with your lawyer.
If you need legal help planning for your alimony negotiation, contact our offices for a free initial consultation. Achieving your ideal outcomes in a divorce requires you to view things from all angles, and our skilled and compassionate family law attorneys can help you do just that. So do not wait—contact us today!