How should I negotiate alimony with my spouse?

Before engaging in a costly court battle over alimony, spouses who are discussing amicably how to settle their separation or divorce, or spouses who go into mediation, should concentrate on the same kinds of factors the Court will consider if they cannot solve the problem themselves.

The Court will not consider marital “fault” (adultery, abandonment), nor will the Court be interested in the bickering, emotional excess or histrionics of either spouse. The Court will be unimpressed by any spouse who lies, hides assets, fails to disclose income, fails to meet his or her responsibilities to the children of the marriage, fails to make reasonable efforts to be self-supporting.

To calculate the alimony, the Court – and hence, you! – should consider the following:

  • the standard of living during the marriage;
  • the insufficiency of income and assets to permit a spouse to be self-supporting;
  • the sufficiency of income or assets that permit the other spouse to contribute support;
  • the impact of the division of property between spouses (sharing of the family patrimony and the matrimonial regime);
  • the duration of the marriage;
  • the responsibilities for child rearing which affect a parent’s availability to work outside the home full-time;
  • the time it will take for the financially dependent spouse to become self-supporting, in whole or in part;
  • any re-education or re-training costs to permit the financially dependent spouse to establish a career or return to a pre-existing career;
  • the age and health of both spouses;
  • the sometimes permanent loss of earning capacity for spouses who have lost career or education opportunities because of long-term responsibilities assumed in the marriage;
  • finally, the income tax consequences to both spouses of the payment of alimony