Divorce can be a rough and painful experience. Some divorces are relatively quick, beginning and ending during a matter of months. Unfortunately, other divorces can take years to settle. Why the difference? Often, it’s a matter of money, and specifically alimony.
Whether you are preparing to file for divorce or you are simply just starting to consider it as an option, you need to start thinking about what you want in a divorce settlement, especially if you think you are5 a candidate for alimony. Alimony, also known as spousal support, is often one of the most contentious issues in a divorce because once a divorce is finalized no one wants to have to think about their former spouse, let alone pay money to them for a number of years.
However, alimony is often necessary in a divorce due to the reality of sacrifices couples must make in their marriage. At some point, most couples will face tough decisions about who should sacrifice a career option to support another spouse’s career, whether to stay home with the children, or whether one spouse should take a job to support the other spouse’s education. Florida, like many states, recognizes that one spouse’s professional sacrifice should entitle them to compensation to help get them to a point where they can become a more competitive job candidate.
Also like many states, Florida tries to distribute assets according to what is known as an equitable distribution system. This does not mean a clean 50-50 split of assets but rather means the court tries to distribute assets in a way that is “equal” or “fair” to both parties. This means it is important for you to be able to present a case showing that the amount of alimony you propose to receive or pay to your former spouse is appropriate and fair to you both. Here are some tips you can use to get started building a strong fair alimony settlement.
First, you’ll want to gather evidence of your income, expenses, and assets that you and your spouse have earned or spent. Make sure it is comprehensive and that it reflects assets you both shared or owned, not simply what you owned. You might also want to consider securing documentation from your spouse’s employer about their compensation in the form of paid vacations or bonuses, as this could increase the alimony you receive or decrease the alimony you pay.
You’ll next want to document your budget that you’ll need for the coming year or several years. This can be done by consulting with your lawyer and a financial planner and should reflect both one time and recurring costs. Going back to school? Planning a move? Legal fees to finalize your divorce? Put it all in your budget! And, make sure you come up with a timeframe for how long you’ll need support or think you should provide it.
Finally, you’ll want to secure the services of an experienced Florida family law attorney. At Blair H. Chan, III, PLLC, we have extensive experience in representing clients seeking a divorce, and we know the ins and outs of alimony and can help make sure your alimony settlement is fair. Contact us today to learn more.