Stay-at-Home Mom Facing Divorce? Don’t Expect Alimony? Forbes article is way overstated.

Forbes recently published an article entitled “Stay-at-Home Mom Facing Divorce? Don’t Expect Alimony” in which the author talks about how the trend is towards women not receiving any spousal support, even when they have been a stay-at-home mom for years and have not been in the workforce.Mother and Daughter Baking Together

In my opinion, at least for Colorado, while there has been a trend away from lifetime maintenance, the article is overstating what is actually going on both in the Courts and when people negotiate their own settlements through mediation.

The article implies that someone who has been a stay at home mom and has not worked for years and has no qualifications, and was married to someone who is making $200,000 annually, should be expected to go out and get a job and support herself is, in my experience, an unrealistic expectation.  Certainly, the courts are expecting parents who have teenage children to go to work, but with an income difference as large as indicated by this case, spousal support for some period of time would make sense.

In Colorado we have a new statute that built upon the previous one in that it now provides a formula for a guidance amount of maintenance (including a maximum) and a length of time.  These are for guidance only and are only one factor the Court is to look at when determining a maintenance award.  Other factors include the need of the potential recipient, the ability of the potential payor to pay maintenance, the health of the parties, their earning ability and work history, ages of the parties, lifestyle during the marriage, economic resources available to the parties, and any other factors the court may deem relevant.

If you choose to make your own decisions, rather than rely on the Court to decide for you, then you can take all the factors into account and work out a plan that makes sense and feels fair for both of you and your children.  In my practice, I use financial software to help people understand their financial situation and what the options are for running two households. We can determine after tax cash positions of each person, taking into account their income, expenses and debt payments, which is very powerful for working out whether spousal support is needed and how much.   This often can involve reducing expenses as the combined incomes often cannot afford the previously enjoyed lifestyle.  We can also look at what the future may hold in terms of income and expenses as the situation changes (children getting older, improved incomes, etc) to see if spousal support should change over time, and for how long spousal support will be needed.

To me, it is important that parents think very carefully about what is best for the children in making decisions about spousal support.  Is it best for the children, and make financial sense, for the primary care parent to work full time and put the children into before and after school care?  Does part time work make more sense, at least until the children are a bit older?

To me, the key issue about spousal support is what makes sense for the family moving forward?  What feels fair, and makes sense, given all the circumstances?  I believe that many people have the ability to work this out for themselves, with a little help from a divorce professional, as long as they are willing to “problem-solve” and be fair with each other, rather than go for an “I win- You lose” result.

Don’t Let Divorce Wreck Your Finances

An excellent article from CNNMoney describes many of the issues people need to take into account when planning their divorce.

The key message from the article is that thinking through carefully, not only the division of assets,  but your future cash flow, is critical to your mid to longer term financial health.  As part of both our consulting services and our mediation service, we help people with financial planning for the future so that they have a sound financial footing for moving forward after divorce.

The divorce process can be very expensive if you decide to punish each other in the process, or try to hide assets, or just be unreasonable.  You can often achieve an agreement you both think is fair without resorting to costly litigation, but only if you decide you are going to approach your divorce as a win-win and not a win-lose.

For more, read the entire article by clicking here.

“Gray” Divorces on the Rise

This article from Burlington County Times describes how the divorce rate for American’s over 50 doubled while for the rest of the population, the rate was shrinking.

Financial issues related to the division of retirement plans and working out financially how each party will be able to live separately is a strength of our practice at DivorceFinanceColorado.

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The Power of the Apology in Divorce

from Huffington Post

“For divorcing and divorced spouses, a heartfelt apology can work wonders in beginning to heal relationships and in settling disputes. Insincere apologies, however, when used strategically to control or manipulate — to try to win or get something, can wreak havoc on divorce negotiations and damage already fragile relationships.”

“Between divorcing adults, an apology, the genuine article, can promote dialogue, decrease emotional distance and even help to re-establish trust. At its very best, it is a healing gesture and a symbol of willingness to take responsibility for misbehavior and to own up to being human. It can also communicate a desire to truly hear and understand (and empathize with) the emotional consequences of the wrong doing that have been brought upon the injured spouse.”

In my experience as a mediator, it is much harder to have “grown-up” conversations and win-win decisions when there has been damage done to one of the parties and no apology by the other.  The damaged party often wants revenge, or to punish, the other party.  Real apologies can be very powerful in mitigating at least some of the hurt and allowing the parties to have positive dialogue about the future and the decisions that need to be made.

If you want to stay out of litigation, with the cost and hurt that it brings, then following the advice in this article might save your a lot of heartache, as well as dollars.

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