Saturday, February 9, 2008

Alimony is Not a 4-Letter Word

Often, one of the most emotional topics in a Collaborative case is alimony. One side often feels like she or he is entitled to it for a number of reasons, including the following, among others: because of having a long-term marriage, or because of health problems, or because of bleak job prospects, or because her or his spouse had been cheating on her or him, or because she or he supported the spouse through school and then the spouse wants a divorce just as the high income is about to start. Most often, alimony is sought by the wife, but there are occasional situations where the wife is the one better off financially and husband needs or wants alimony.

As strongly and emotionally as one spouse feels entitled to alimony, the other often resists alimony.

One of the advantages of using Collaborative Law is that we view alimony differently. We remove the sense of entitlement or revenge and we remove the stigma some may feel in paying it. We recognize that it is just a tool in helping one or both parties achieve their goals and meet their needs. Actually, it can be a tax planning tool because it is a deduction to the paying party.

If both parties will move beyond their initial feelings about the subject, they will discover that they can both benefit from using alimony. One way this can become crystal clear is to utilize a divorce financial planner who can explain the law and quantify the benefits to both parties. Using a trained financial planner in the case will normally benefit both parties. The planner will help the parties prepare personal budgets and project their needs and financial abilities well into the future. The planner may recommend using or not using alimony in a given case.

While alimony may not be needed or appropriate in all cases, the parties should remain open minded about it as a tool to help them reach their goals and achieve a complete resolution to their divorce.

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