Divorce is a painful and often traumatic experience. While some divorces can start and finish in the span of a few months, others drag on for years. Why? Money. Assets. Custody battles.
If you are preparing to file for divorce, or are even just considering the possibility of ending your marriage, it’s time to think about what you are looking for out of a settlement. One of the biggest issues in a divorce settlement is alimony. Even if a divorce is amicable, monthly or yearly payments to an ex are not something that people look forward to after the divorce is finalized.
Florida aims to equitably distribute property and assets. Keep in mind that “equitable” does not mean “equal.” Rather than splitting everything 50/50, judges look for a solution that is fair for both parties. If you can build a case that shows that your solution is fair for you and your ex, you won’t have to pay exuberant amounts of alimony (or get the short end of the stick and not receive as much as you would like).
Use these tips to negotiate a fair alimony settlement.
Collect Evidence of Your Finances
The best way to get a fair financial settlement is to provide a full look at the income, expenses, and assets that you and your ex-spouse have earned or spent. Don’t count on your ex to provide information on their assets, especially ones that are separate.
Make sure you have evidence of what you and your ex own and shared throughout your marriage. Separate assets and assets that were obtained before your marriage will most likely revert back to their rightful owner, but the value of those assets may have an impact on how shared assets are distributed.
It may also be useful to obtain documentation from your ex’s employer about policies on bonuses, overtime, and paid vacation days. If any of these increase the value of what your ex is earning at their job, you may be entitled to more alimony (or to paying less).
Determine and Document Your Budget
Someone who is going back to school to further their career will need more financial help than a single person living alone and supporting themselves. If you have a high budget and can justify these costs, you will most likely be entitled to higher alimony payments.
Work with a lawyer or financial advisor to determine the budget you need for the next year. This includes one-time costs and costs that may continue to lighten the load in your pockets each year.
Divorce is a transitional period that often requires moving, paperwork, court appearances, and legal fees. Can you afford all of these expenses? What will it cost for you to get back on your feet?
Don’t let your divorce leave you stuck at your parents’ house eating a strict diet of pasta and dollar store meals. Include all of these one-time expenses and ask for a settlement that can cover these expenses during your transition.
Recruit the Help of a Florida Family Lawyer
Who’s better to have on your team than a professional negotiator who knows the ins and outs of Florida family law? An experienced attorney can help you with the nuances of divorce and alimony that can help you get the settlement you want and deserve.
Worried about the cost? Contrary to popular belief, there are affordable lawyers in Florida who are willing to help you with your case. Before you hire an attorney for your divorce, call them up and discuss your options. Most lawyers will offer a free initial consultation to make sure that you are a good fit and that they can help you with your case.
Consider the Timeframe of Your Alimony Payments
A one-time paycheck could help you after the first few months of your divorce, but what happens if that’s all you get? Getting back on your feet isn’t done overnight. Think long-term about your expenses and what you will need out of an alimony settlement.
It’s also important to consider how long it may take for your first alimony payments to come in. Don’t put down a deposit on a house today if you may still be waiting for your settlement in a few months.
A Florida lawyer can help to give you a more detailed timeline of how long it might be until you receive (or have to pay) alimony, and how long you may be able to count on those payments for. Alimony may not last forever, and it is important to get a fair amount while a judge requires payments to be made.