Whether you live in Long Island, or elsewhere, divorce can be an emotionally and financially challenging time for both parties involved. One of the most difficult issues to navigate is spousal support payments, also known as alimony payments.
Spousal support refers to the financial support paid by an ex-spouse to the other following a divorce. The payer spouse may feel burdened by the financial obligations, while the receiving spouse may feel uncertain about their future financial stability.
This blog will explore the various types of spousal support, the factors considered in determining alimony payments, and the role of mediation in reaching a fair and equitable support agreement.
What Is Spousal Support?
Digging deeper, spousal support or alimony payments can be a critical lifeline for the recipient spouse during financial hardship. In many cases, the former spouse may have been the primary breadwinner during the marriage, leaving the dependent spouse without a source of income.
Paying alimony can help the recipient spouse maintain a standard of living similar to what they had during the marriage and provide a sense of financial security as they adjust to their new circumstances.
Some important details to keep in mind about spousal support are the following:
- Spousal support is separate from child support, the latter being to support the children of the marriage.
- The amount and duration of alimony payment can vary depending on the case.
- Alimony enforcement may be ordered for a set time, or they may be open-ended and continue until the paying spouse’s death or the recipient spouse’s remarriage or death.
- In some cases, modifying or terminating spousal support may vary in various circumstances, such as a significant change in the paying spouse’s income or the recipient spouse’s financial needs.
Different Types of Spousal Support
Let’s talk about the types of spousal support that may be awarded in a divorce. The amount and duration of spousal support payments can vary depending on the case.
In general, spousal support is determined based on factors such as the length of the marriage, the income of each spouse, marital property, and the standard of living established during the marriage.
Here are the three main types of spousal support:
Temporary spousal support
This type of support is paid during the divorce proceedings and is intended to provide the recipient spouse with financial assistance until a final support agreement is reached.
Temporary support is computed based on the recipient spouse’s immediate financial needs and is intended to help cover living expenses such as rent, utilities, and food.
Rehabilitative support is intended to help the recipient’s spouse become self-supporting and awarded for a specific period. This type of support is awarded in cases where the recipient spouse needs time to acquire the skills or education necessary to re-enter the workforce.
Permanent alimony or permanent spousal support is a form of spousal support that is awarded for an indefinite period. This type of support is typically awarded in cases where the recipient spouse cannot support themselves due to age, disability, or other factors.
It can also be awarded in longer marriages and intended to provide ongoing financial support to the recipient spouse.
Note that the availability of different types of spousal support can vary depending on the laws of your state and the specific circumstances of your case.
In some cases, the family court may have limited discretion in determining the amount and duration of spousal support payments.
Factors Considered When Awarding Spousal Support
Now that you understand the different types of spousal support, it’s important to know the laws that govern spousal support in your state.
Spousal support rules and regulations can vary significantly depending on the jurisdiction, and it’s important to be informed about the rules and regulations that will apply to your case.
Here are some details to keep in mind:
- Alimony laws in some states may allow the other spouse to deny spousal support to the recipient spouse under certain circumstances, such as if the recipient spouse committed marital misconduct such as adultery.
- Other states may require the paying spouse to provide financial support to the recipient spouse regardless of the recipient spouse’s behavior during the marriage.
- In some cases, the court may order the paying spouse to pay spousal support for a specific time, after which the support payments will terminate. It is known as “limited duration” or temporary alimony.
- In other cases, the court may order the paying spouse to pay spousal support until the recipient remarries or dies. It is known as “permanent” spousal support.
- Spousal support laws may also consider factors such as the standard of living established during the marriage, the age and health of the parties, and the recipient spouse’s earning capacity.
It is important to understand that spousal support laws are often subject to interpretation, and the outcome of a spousal support case can be highly dependent on the said case.
How Mediation Works in Spousal Support
Mediation can be an effective way to negotiate and receive alimony that meets the needs of both parties. A mediator can help the parties consider the different types of spousal support and work to craft an agreement that takes into account the unique circumstances of their case.
By working together in mediation, the parties can often reach a more satisfactory and mutually beneficial support agreement than they might in court.
A family law attorney or a dedicated mediator can provide valuable guidance and advice throughout the process.
Mediation vs. Litigation
Regarding disputes over spousal support payments, litigation is not the only option.
Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution process that can help divorcing couples reach a mutually acceptable agreement about spousal support payments without going to court.
Here are some of the advantages of mediation over litigation:
Litigation can be expensive when it comes to disputes over spousal support. Mediation tends to be cheaper than litigation, as the parties can avoid paying court costs and attorneys’ fees.
The legal process can often take a long time, but mediation sessions are generally shorter and more efficient than traditional court proceedings. The parties can often resolve more quickly than if they went to court.
More Control Over the Outcome
Since the parties are in charge of crafting their agreement in mediation, they have more control over the outcome than if a judge determines the outcome of the case.
In mediation, the former spouses can negotiate an agreement tailored to their particular needs and interests.
The Mediation Process for Spousal Support
If you’re considering using mediation to resolve spousal support issues, it is better to know what to expect from the process.
Here is a breakdown of the mediation process for spousal support:
- Choosing a Mediator: The first step in the mediation process is choosing a mediator qualified to handle spousal support disputes. Choose someone with experience in this area and who you feel comfortable working with.
- Scheduling the Mediation Session: Once you have chosen a mediator, the parties will schedule a mediation session. It can be done at a time and place convenient for both parties.
- Preparing for the Mediation Session: Before the mediation session, each party will have the opportunity to prepare by gathering relevant financial documents and thinking about their goals for the spousal support arrangement.
- Beginning the Mediation Session: At the start of the mediation session, the mediator will explain the process and the ground rules for the session. Each party will then have the opportunity to present their case and explain their goals for the spousal support arrangement.
- Negotiating the Spousal Support Agreement: Once each party has had the opportunity to present their case, the parties will begin negotiating the spousal support agreement. The mediator will help guide the parties toward a mutually acceptable agreement.
- Finalizing the Spousal Support Agreement: Once the parties have reached an agreement, the mediator will help finalize the spousal support agreement. The agreement can then be submitted to the court for approval.
The Bottom Line
Spousal support or alimony is an important issue for divorcing couples, and mediation is an effective alternative to litigation in resolving disputes over spousal support payments.
If you are unfamiliar with mediation, this guide provides an overview of the process and its benefits over litigation. With a better understanding of the mediation process, you can decide whether this approach is right for you.
Call Win-Win Divorce Solutions today to know one of our mediators and learn how we can help you through this difficult time.