When couples are married, it is common for one spouse to stay home to raise the children while the other spouse continues to work. It is also very common for one spouse to earn more income than the other spouse even when both people are working. The law provides a way to deal with these situations and allows the spouse who needs financial help to receive spousal support. In divorce mediation, spousal support is handled much differently than it is in court. Even though the divorce mediation process allows both couples to spend a lot of time discussing what they need and can afford, the financial landscape is still difficult when spousal support is needed.
As a divorce mediator, I have had the difficult conversations about spousal support hundreds of times. At Alternative Divorce Solutions, we use a software called the Dissomaster to help the couples calculate spousal support. Then, we allow the couple to negotiate their own spousal support agreement based on what the paying spouse can afford and what the receiving spouse needs. Even with the guidance of a trained divorce mediator, this conversation can be hard. The couples are used to living a certain type of lifestyle on their incomes. They may be able to afford “luxuries” such as vacations, shopping, etc. When the same amount of income is being spread between two houses, things will need to change. There is an inevitable lifestyle adjustment that needs to happen even when the couple makes a lot of money.
If you are considering divorce, it is really important to understand what your expectations should be. Even if you go to court and argue for the max amount of spousal support, you will still need to make a lifestyle change. There simply isn’t enough income to support the exact lifestyle you are used to. In divorce mediation, you have the opportunity to analyze your financial situation in detail with your divorce mediator and your spouse. Having a conversation based on your real expenses and needs is beneficial because you and your spouse can sit down and evaluate where the money is going and what expenses may need to be adjusted going forward. At the end of the day, a couple’s goal in mediation should be to create a support agreement that works. When you leave mediation, your spouse should be able to afford to make the monthly payments you have agreed upon. You should also be able to afford to live on the amount being paid.
At Alternative Divorce Solutions, we take the time to help you understand your financial needs. We assist you in completing your financial disclosures, that will show you what your income is and what you are spending in black and white. This creates an environment where the discussion about support is based on your real financial data, not emotions that may derail your settlement.