The decision to divorce is often a difficult choice, but once made, it is time to start planning. If you are nervous about your financial future or the topic of alimony, do not worry; you are not alone. Mediation allows parties to talk through their feelings and fears about alimony in a safe and confidential setting.
Confidential discussions during mediation provide parties a productive opportunity to discuss alimony in a stress-free environment. Guidance from the mediator helps to determine whether alimony is appropriate in the grand scheme of the divorce plan. Planning budgets to project the income and expenses of the parties and other family members, if children are involved, is a useful exercise. While divorce can be a financial hardship, the effects of the divorce are minimized by making and following budgets. Alimony is a tool the parties can use to make a healthy financial plan.
Parties using mediation decide the issue of alimony with self-determination. This is often more satisfying than leaving it up to the lawyers or judges, who themselves are often perplexed and challenged to determine what is fair. Alimony reform is adding even more uncertainty on the topic. There are several suggested formulas or guidelines to explore. The MBA/BBA guidelines, the Ginsburg formula, the Scandurra formula, and the 1/3 formula all provide frameworks for analyzing potential alimony amounts and duration.
Some guidelines suggest durational limits on alimony in relation to the length of the marriage. Sometimes courts leave duration open ended, perhaps rationalizing that either party may file a complaint for modification in the event of a change in material circumstance. In mediation, the parties decide what is right for their unique situation. The flexibility found in mediation is better suited to creating a plan that is agreeable to both parties.
Alimony is a difficult topic, because no two cases are the same; every divorce is slightly different. By exploring many different scenarios, mediation participants will have a better understanding of the options and the implications each formula provides. Mediators are well suited to encourage the creativity of the parties themselves in formulating the divorce plan on an individual basis. In mediation, the decision about alimony is yours to make. With guidance, you will make the right choice, because it will be yours.
Two thirds of help is to give courage. – Irish Proverb