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Each divorce involves stress and other negative emotions. Even in uncontested divorces, spouses experience increased anxiety when dissolving the marital community in which they invested so much.
However, dealing with alimony brings things to another level. Spousal support almost always causes a heated debate between divorcing spouses in litigation because it involves money – which never goes uncontested.
The key to successful divorce mediation is understanding why alimony is such a complex topic and how spouses can overcome the surrounding difficulties.
Ann Goade discusses the issue below.
Alimony is money one spouse gives to another to help them maintain the lifestyle they enjoyed during the marriage. There are two main reasons why one spouse finds themselves in need of financial support:
Not all marriages are the same. Likewise, each divorce procedure is different, putting various aspects of the matrimony into focus. However, several circumstances make an alimony decision more likely:
The basic assumption of alimony is that the higher-earning spouse should pay the other spouse for a specified period after the divorce. These regular payments aim at solving two problems:
Regardless of the divorce method you choose (litigation or mediation), the talks about alimony are always contentious. The spouses almost inevitably engage in fierce discussion when the topic of financial support comes to the table. The reason for that is the factors contributing to the court’s alimony decision. There is no precise formula Florida courts could use to determine the amount of alimony. Instead, they consider certain standard factors, including the length of the marriage, the income of each spouse, contributions by each spouse to the matrimony, their conduct, etc.
In most cases, issues like the contribution of each spouse and their behavior during the marriage are the prime cause of the marital crisis. Couples disagree about who contributed more to the household or what each sacrificed to support the other spouse’s professional career. Unable to resolve these disagreements, they decide to divorce. When the same issues are raised again during the divorce procedure (when discussing alimony), spouses experience negative emotions that cause them to separate in the first place.
For that reason, dealing with alimony requires a respectful attitude to the other party and a high degree of self-control. Both spouses should know that its purpose is helping the lower-income (or unemployed) spouse to stand on their feet – not reviving the past and seeking the culprit for the divorce.
Therefore, the divorce procedure you choose can significantly influence the outcome of your alimony-related dispute.
Litigation is an adversarial, vindictive process involving two opposing sides that fight in court using all legal means available. It is a zero-sum game in which one side’s victory means the other side’s defeat. The court process is incapable of dealing with intense emotions surrounding alimony issues. On the contrary, litigation can aggravate the situation, inflaming the emotional tension between spouses.
On the other hand, mediation offers a neutral and peaceful environment, helping the spouses to talk their way through the disagreement. One of the central aspects of mediation is its transparency and openness. The mediator encourages the parties to express their emotions, helping them relieve the tension and approach alimony issues cool-headed. Instead of intensifying the conflict (like litigation), mediation aims at de-escalation. The free flow of information enables spouses to express their resentments, concerns, and anxieties. Mediation acknowledges such emotions instead of ignoring them. As a confidential process, mediation keeps all information parties share during sessions safe from becoming part of the public record. These traits make mediation an unmatched tool for dealing with emotionally charged issues such as alimony.
Ann Goade is a certified Florida family mediator with over 30 years of experience mediating the most contested divorce cases.
To avoid vindictive and emotionally-charged litigation – let Mrs. Goade help you deal with alimony and other divorce-related issues through peaceful negotiation.
We offer a unique mediation experience without retainers or upfront costs. Call us today at 772-288-7275 to schedule your free consultation.