Alimony is often a hot-button issue in divorce mediation, and the discussion can get very emotional. In many cases, one spouse feels that he or she deserves more money for a longer period while the other wants to pay less money for a shorter time. Also, while the goal is to even things out for some period of time to reflect the lifestyle of the marriage, the couple may also disagree on what kind of lifestyle they had. For example, if this past year was particularly good or bad, how should that factor into the calculation. Luckily, in divorce mediation, we are used to difficult discussions. And we can guide divorcing couples with somewhat competing interests to reach an agreement.
Determining the amount and time period of spousal support or alimony requires a balancing of factors – the length of the marriage, the parties' age, health, income and ability to earn, etc. Because there is no one set formula, divorce mediators can help couples come up with creative solutions. For example, for our clients at Westfield Mediation, LLC, we sometimes create a plan where the amount of spousal support changes over time, giving the receiving person some opportunity to establish himself/herself financially. Also, in our financial plans, we balance spousal support with the distribution of assets and debts to come up a fair allocation for both people. Alimony has tax consequences and also impacts child support, so it's important to have a financial agreement that works for the whole family.
Coming up with a plan for alimony that makes everyone feel comfortable can be tricky, but it is doable. For more information on spousal support or divorce mediation, please contact Randi M. Albert, JD, or Michelle Weinberg, M. Ed., Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, at Westfield Mediation, LLC