Can You Negotiate Alimony?
Yes! One of the great things about divorce in Florida is that men and women have control. They can set the terms of their divorce, including whether they receive alimony.
Of course, getting a spouse to agree to alimony is not always easy. There might be legitimate disagreements about the amount or duration. We advise all divorcing men and women to hire a Jupiter alimony lawyer to give them a leg up in negotiations.
Identify what You Could Get without an Agreement
You can’t effectively negotiate alimony unless you know what you are likely to get should negotiations fall through. Without this information, you might agree to receive too little (or pay too much). For this reason, sit down with your Jupiter divorce lawyer and look over the law, which you can find at Fla. Stat. § 61.08.
Florida’s alimony statute essentially says that a judge must first find there is an “actual need” for alimony and that the other spouse can pay for it. The judge will look at several factors, including the length of the marriage, the standard of living, and each spouse’s health and financial resources (among other factors).
This analysis is necessarily subjective, and no two judges will see the issue the same way. However, an attorney should use her experience to determine the likelihood that a judge will order alimony if the issue is contested.
Find Full Documentation
Don’t rely on your spouse to happily hand over full documentation of finances. Instead, try to pull together as much as you can. Your attorney wants to see evidence of all assets obtained while married, including retirement accounts.
Also document income. Your spouse might qualify for bonuses or commissions, so find information about the employer’s policies regarding this income.
Set a Budget
Before you can negotiate, you also need to identify how much alimony you need. This is different from how much you would like. You might “like” to get $3,000 a month. However, you might only need $1,000.
Create a budget that fully accounts for how much it costs to set up a separate household. Also consider other goals, such as finishing your education. You might want to get a two-year degree, so calculate what that will cost in tuition, fees, books, and miscellaneous expenses.
Identify What to Give Up
Effective negotiation usually requires give and take. You might want to avoid paying any alimony to your spouse, but that means you’ll probably have to give something else up in return. For example, you might agree to let your wife have the family home or a bigger chunk of a retirement account. This tradeoff can work for a higher-earning spouse because he can avoid the uncertainty of being taken to the cleaners by the judge ordering a huge alimony award.
If you are the lower-earning spouse, you also might need to give up something to secure a favorable alimony award. Talk about your strategy with your attorney.
Call Us Today
Caroline Olsen, P.A. handles all aspects of a Florida divorce. Our team can negotiate alimony and property disputes so that our clients exit the marriage in the best shape possible. Please call us today to schedule a consultation. Our office serves Jupiter, Boca Raton, and Plantation.