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Spousal support negotiations during divorce can be challenging

Any Massachusetts couple in the midst of legally ending their marriage would likely agree that all aspects of the process are unpleasant, at best. However, for many divorcing couples, spousal support (also called alimony) tends to be one of the more challenging steps in the divorce process. Therefore, to assist divorcing individuals in successfully negotiating this type of support, industry experts offer some tips.

When calculating spousal support, courts consider various factors, but typically, the payer’s ability to provide support and the payee’s need for support are very important considerations. They may also look at factors such as the length of the marriage, division of property in the divorce and standard of living established during the marriage, among others. Although many alimony arrangements involve the payer providing the payee with a regular monthly payment, some divorcing couples may consider alternative payment structures, such as an alimony buyout, in which the payer provides alimony in one lump-sum payment or by transfer of certain assets.

Whether a divorcing couple has a contentious relationship or one that is more amicable, they are wise to employ some conflict negotiation strategies when discussing potentially challenging issues, such as spousal support. For one, both parties should stay calm during discussions, and if one or both cannot do so at a given moment, they are smart to reschedule a time to discuss the issue at hand. Divorcing people can also practice active listening, meaning really hearing the other party’s thoughts, ideas and feelings and repeating them back in a summarized format, a strategy that can help to reduce friction between the divorcing couple. Having a neutral financial professional involved in the discussion can also help to switch the focus away from emotions and toward finding a solution that benefits both parties.

Typically, divorcing couples must negotiate a number of issues before reaching the legal end of their marriage. Some people find spousal support to be one of the most emotionally stressful issues and therefore, very difficult to discuss without professional guidance. A Massachusetts attorney experienced in family law can be a valuable resource for people negotiating such important issues throughout the divorce process.


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