Tips for Negotiating Alimony Payments
Alimony is a sore subject in most divorces. It’s hard to accept that your relationship with your spouse is ending but that you are somehow still responsible for them financially. If you are the party requesting alimony, you can expect some push-back. If you have a particularly bitter divorce, alimony might be one of the most heated issues. See below for a few tips on negotiating alimony with your spouse before or during divorce, and call a savvy New Jersey alimony attorney for help with a divorce or other family law matter.
Evaluate Your Spouse’s Finances
If left to the courts, alimony in New Jersey is decided based on several factors. First and foremost, the court will look to the requesting party’s needs as well as the ability of the paying party to pay. The amount of alimony will, in turn, be based on the respective income and financial circumstances of each party. When you plan to enter alimony negotiations, one of the first things you need to do is make sure you have an accurate picture of your spouse’s finances.
Identify all of your spouse’s income from all sources, including salary, dividends, bonuses, rent, and others. Identify all of their assets, including bank accounts, stocks and investments, real estate holdings, business interests, and other items of value. Make sure to track down both marital and separate assets; alimony is based on the complete financial picture, not just the items that are subject to distribution. Let your attorney know if you have any suspicion of hidden assets; you might need to retain a forensic accountant to track down offshore accounts and other holdings that should be part of the alimony discussion.
Evaluate Your Financial Needs
In addition to your spouse’s income, it’s important to evaluate your own financial situation. If you have nearly the same income as your spouse, then you might not actually need alimony. If you make next to nothing, or you have no employment, then you should be entitled to alimony payments. Be thorough in identifying all of your daily, weekly, monthly, and annual expenses. Ultimately, you’ll want to compare your income with your expenses, factoring in your assets and whatever you’ll be taking in the divorce. Figure out what you think you need to get yourself financially independent, and ask for it.
If additional factors support a larger award (such as if you sacrificed your career to take care of the home, or if you supported your spouse throughout their education), make sure to include those in your calculation of what you need and what you deserve. Talk to your New Jersey alimony attorney about your marriage, your finances, and your situation to help evaluate what might constitute a fair and reasonable alimony request.
Utilize Conflict Negotiation Tools
Ultimately, no matter how prepared you are with the facts and figures, you and your attorney will need to sit down with your ex and their attorney to negotiate alimony. Divorces are often emotional, heated affairs. Even the most mutual divorce can involve hurt feelings and conflict. When discussing alimony, do your best to reduce the emotion and contention in the room, in order to work toward a resolution that suits all parties.
Some conflict negotiation tips to keep in mind include:
- Stay calm, don’t get emotional
- Give your spouse advanced notice rather than ambushing them with the discussion
- Focus on your own feelings and needs, rather than accusations and pointed statements about them
- Be collaborative as best you can, working toward a mutually-agreeable solution
- Utilize active listening, and really take in their side of the issue
- Be reasonable in your request; don’t ask for half their paycheck every month
- Be open to compromise; your initial ask might be too much for what you need and what they can afford
- Use your lawyer to facilitate the discussion and push on the more contentious points, limiting the impact of personal feelings
Call Today for Help from a Seasoned New Jersey Alimony Attorney
If you’re dealing with alimony issues or considering divorce in New Jersey, contact the talented and thorough Union family law attorney John B. D’Alessandro for a consultation.