Is alimony BS?

alimony-spousal-support-divorce-bullshit

Divorce is difficult enough without having to worry about alimony. Though it can be seen as beneficial to one party, the responsibility of paying alimony is nothing short of bullshit (in most situations). Understanding exactly what you are responsible for and making sure you are prepared for alimony negotiations will help settle the dissolution of your marriage in the best way possible.

Although it can be a frustrating life event, alimony is simply a part of marriage and divorce, and many ex-spouses are forced to accept it, whether they like it or not.

What Is Alimony?

Alimony sounds like a tough legal term, but in all actuality, it equals spousal support. Once a married couple decides that a divorce is the last step in their relationship, one spouse may be responsible for paying the other spouse’s allotted amount of money, either in a lump sum or in regular payments over the years.

These funds are typically designated to help the recipient afford basic living expenses, such as maintaining the lifestyle they had while they were married. Without a comfortable alimony settlement, many individuals find it difficult to survive as a result of a disability or other debilitating event, which prevents them from being able to earn a living.

How to Prepare Yourself for Alimony Negotiations

If you find that you are stuck in a situation that involves having to get ready to negotiate alimony with your ex-spouse, there are steps you can take to prepare yourself.

1. Understand Your Situation

The first, most important thing you can do is make sure that you understand your financial situation. You will only feel comfortable splitting a certain amount of money on a regular basis, and it should be an amount that leaves you enough money to live comfortably.

In order to fight for a total alimony payment, take your income and expenses into account. Then you will know what is affordable and realistic based on your current situation.

2. Understand Your Spouse’s Financial Situation

It is also important to take the time to understand the monetary situation of your spouse. It may be tempting to betray them and force them to work for their own money, but there are plenty of reasons why your ex might be in desperate need of your payments. By putting harsh feelings aside and seeing things from their point of view, you will have a better idea of what they might ask for, in terms of funding.

3. Think about Modification

Typically, your legal counsel will talk to you about modified alimony, but you should take the time to sufficiently research modification, including how it could affect your alimony payments. In the event that your ex-spouse incurs any life changes, your payments could also increase by court order. Or if they are disabled in the future, you will be responsible for accommodating their living expenses.

4. Know if a Lump Sum is a Good Idea

Much like reading up on modification, consider whether a lump-sum payment would be preferable or not. Oftentimes, couples find that agreeing on a certain amount of money that is paid on a certain date is far simpler than regular payments over the years.

Plus, if you agree on a single lump sum, it means you will not be responsible for giving your spouse more money in the future. However, depending on your current financial situation, a lump sum could be far too costly.

5. Agree on an Affordable Dollar Value

By using a legal counsel and mediators, be prepared to work with your spouse to agree on an amount that is affordable to both parties. Even if you had a terrible split, it is important that the alimony payments fall within a reasonable price that is affordable for you and comfortable for your ex.

6. Be Prepared to Negotiate

As with any type of economic discussion, there will be negotiations. It is relatively impossible to assume that you and your ex will come to an immediate agreement about the amount of alimony that should be paid. Again, it is important to remember why you need to seek legal counsel and ensure that both parties get exactly what is fair.

Summary: Is an Alimony Reform Really Necessary?

Determining the relevance of alimony is something that has been on the minds of divorcees for years. It has left many people wondering whether a reform is necessary. But at the end of the day, determining whether it is or is not is based on personal opinion.

Some people believe that the rates of alimony payments should be more fairly priced, which is particularly true if they are entering negotiations with a tough ex-spouse. Meanwhile, there are others (typically those receiving alimony) that believe that payments should be higher to help accommodate their lavish lifestyle. On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, some groups think that alimony is something that should not exist at all.

The single easiest way to make sure you work through alimony discussions in an effective, constructive manner is to come to some type of mutual agreement. Otherwise, one party is always going to feel like the other is getting the better end of the deal.

Shawn Leamon, MBA, CDFA

Dallas, Texas

Shawn C. H. Leamon is Managing Partner of LaGrande Global, a firm that helps successful families manage large financial transitions like divorce, inheritance and selling a business.

He earned his Bachelor of Arts from Dartmouth College, double majoring in Economics and Philosophy, and his Masters in Business Administration at Spain’s IE Business School.

Before founding LaGrande Global, Shawn helped manage $1.1 billion in client assets at Bernstein Global Wealth Management. He also worked as a credit research analyst at J.P. Morgan. He is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, and he has been an advisor to numerous high-stakes divorce cases.

Shawn is the author of two well-received finance books: Managing Private Wealth: Principles, and Divorce and Your Money: The No-Nonsense Guide, both published in 2016.

In his spare time, Shawn is an ultra-endurance athlete and has competed in events as long as 24 hours. He is an Eagle Scout and a member of the Alumni Board of Greenhill School.