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Collaborative Divorce and Spousal Support

Spousal support is often one of the most contentious issues when couples divorce in North Carolina. Some say that the entire concept is antiquated and nothing more than a leftover from a time when women were financially dependent on men. Others say that it is an important resource for certain spouses who need time and funds to figure out their post-divorce plans. Whatever the case may be, one thing is clear — spouses often argue over this aspect of divorce. Receiving spouses may feel like they are not receiving enough while paying spouses frequently feel as though they are handing over too much of their income. 

Fortunately, collaborative divorce exists to help spouses deal with contentious issues just like this. With this approach, spouses can handle their differences and come to a reasonable compromise outside of court. Collaborative divorce is often touted as a more “human” and “civilized” way for couples to divorce, and it can prevent feelings of bitterness and regret after arbitrary court rulings. Although spousal support is undoubtedly an issue that can cause spouses to become emotional, collaborative divorce allows spouses to talk it out, find a solution, and avoid the expensive, drawn-out process of a trial. 

What is Spousal Support?

Spousal support is payment from one spouse to another after the divorce is finalized. These payments are separate from child support, and they are intended to help spouses “get back on their feet” after a divorce. Spousal support can help an individual become more independent after a marriage. For example, someone receiving spousal support could go back to school and earn new degrees or qualifications, making them better equipped to re-enter the workforce after a long absence. 

Spousal support may also help spouses maintain the same standard of living to which they had become accustomed during the marriage. In addition, a spouse who is approaching retirement age can use spousal support to enter their twilight years without unnecessary financial concerns. Spousal support usually is not permanent, and it is not automatically awarded. To receive spousal support, a spouse needs to have earned significantly less than their ex during the marriage. In addition, spouses are typically barred from receiving spousal support if they commit adultery during the marriage. 

What is Collaborative Divorce?

A collaborative divorce is an alternative approach that does not involve resolving divorce-related issues during a trial. Instead of letting a judge decide how their divorce will be handled, a couple can negotiate all aspects of their separation privately. Their attorneys are usually present, and these legal professionals help spouses draft a separation agreement. This agreement details how property division, child custody, child support, and spousal support will be handled. Once the separation agreement is finalized, a judge simply signs off on it during a relatively straightforward hearing. 

How Can Collaborative Divorce Help Couples Resolve Spousal Support Issues?

Both spouses may agree that a collaborative divorce is the best way to handle the often-contentious issue of spousal support. Even if a spouse is intent on receiving as much money as possible through spousal support, it is often in their best interests to handle this matter during a private negotiation. Simply put, you never really know how a judge is going to rule. You may receive spousal support for the rest of your life, or you may not receive spousal support at all. Collaborative divorce gives you a certain degree of control and predictability. 

Both spouses can agree on when and how spousal support ends. You can also avoid spousal support altogether by trading certain assets. The receiving spouse may offer to forgo their spousal support payments in exchange for a certain asset, such as a house. Or perhaps they will accept a one-time, lump-sum payment. These options can often simplify spousal support. The point is that spouses are free to decide exactly how they want to handle this matter during a collaborative divorce. 

Enlist the Help of a Qualified Attorney Today

If you have been searching the North Carolina area for a qualified, experienced family law attorney, look no further than Arnold & Smith, PLLC. Not only do we have considerable experience with collaborative law, but we have also helped numerous spouses resolve issues related to spousal support. If you are having trouble with this aspect of your divorce, you first need to understand that you are not alone. We can assist you as you negotiate with your spouse during the collaborative law process, and we can ensure that a solution that satisfies everyone is found. Book your consultation today, and we can get started on an effective action plan immediately.