Illustration of "SPOUSAL AGREEMENT" title on legal document
Written by Monica Donaldson Stewart

Decisions regarding spousal support in collaborative divorce

Spousal maintenance, also known as spousal support or alimony, may be part of the collaborative divorce process. A divorce is likely to have an impact on the financial stability of both spouses. In collaborative divorce matters, spousal maintenance is referred to as “bridging the gap.” For couples who are considering spousal support in collaborative divorce, there are a few things to remember. Most importantly, you must be realistic and keep an open mind about the financial needs of both parties.

Decisions Regarding Spousal Support in a Collaborative Divorce

Divorce is never easy, but it doesn’t have to be to be an adversarial experience. By choosing to work together in a collaborative process, separating couples can create a customized plan to dissolve the marriage while avoiding court. You significantly reduce the emotional and financial costs by choosing a non-adversarial approach.

Many couples share concerns about meeting financial obligations following a divorce. For that reason, it’s not uncommon for couples to have opposing views on spousal support, even in a collaborative divorce.  Having the support of a collaborative team to help you make decisions about spousal support is an important part of finding a way to end your marriage peacefully. If one spouse is unable to meet his or her needs and the other spouse has the ability to assist and still meet their own needs, a plan to “bridge the gap” should be discussed.

Spousal support in collaborative divorce is designed to help avoid financial hardships. Often the spouses made decisions during their marriage (e.g. to advance the education of one spouse, or for the other spouse to care for the couple’s home and children during the marriage rather than working full-time) that leave the spouses with different abilities to support themselves following a divorce. The goal of the collaborative divorce process is to assist both parties in creating a plan that is tailored to making sure they can both meet their financial responsibilities moving forward.

Factors to Consider with Spousal Support in Collaborative Divorce

Once you acknowledge the need for spousal support, both of you must now work to find common ground regarding the amount and duration that the support will be paid. There is no mathematical formula that answers this question, but Arizona statutes set forth a number of factors to consider when dealing with spousal support.  Some of those factors include:

  • The age and health of both spouses
  • The length of the marriage
  • The incomes (and earning histories) of both spouses
  • The reasonable expenses both parties anticipate incurring
  • The assets each party is awarded
  • And More

As you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse discuss spousal support in collaborative divorce, it’s important to include your attorney and a neutral financial expert. A collaborative divorce attorney can advise you regarding all of your options, and a financial neutral will help to identify financial issues that you may have overlooked. This includes tax burdens and the potential long-term effects of a poorly designed agreement.

Choose Best Legal Choices

In most cases, divorcing couples seek to ensure an award of spousal support they feel is fair to both parties. It may be a challenge for both spouses to maintain the lifestyle they’ve become accustomed to during the marriage. By working with a collaborative divorce attorney and team, you can create a customized divorce plan that best suits your family.

Spousal support in collaborative divorce can help to address your financial concerns. This process offers you more control over the things that matter most to you. A collaborative divorce attorney can help you design an agreement tailored to meet the needs of you and your family.