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What is a fair amount of spousal support?

Spousal support, often called alimony, can be quite the contentious issue in a divorce. The reality is that splitting up most likely means financial pain on both sides, no matter how wealthy a couple may be. This financial pain means that both spouses can present reasons that sound entirely valid for needing to increase or decrease spousal support.

So, what is fair?

Collaborative and as businesslike as possible

One definition of "fair spousal support" is that the couple decides on an amount in a collaborative manner that was as businesslike as possible. In other words, the spouses and their lawyers worked together to weigh numerous factors and tried not to let emotions interfere. Emotions are what can really derail spousal support discussions because they may lead to rationalizations that do not rely on logic. Of course, divorce can be one of the most emotional times in a person's life, which is why it is even more important to have a lawyer representing your interests and looking out for you.

Happy with the results

Another definition of "fair spousal support" could be that both parties are happy with the results, whatever they are. For example, maybe your friends think you are paying way too much to your ex, but you are happy to do so. (But will you be as happy three years later?)

If a divorce has to go to trial for a judge to decide a spousal support amount, it is still possible for the ruling to lead to a fair amount. For example, a vocational expert is someone the judge might have brought in to help determine one spouse's or both spouses' earning capacity in a realistic and objective manner. However, because the parties did not have a say in the judge's decision, they may feel it was unfair. Collaborative talks help avoid the prospect of having a decision you had little or no say in forced onto you.

The bottom line is that it can be difficult even in an amicable divorce for both spouses to consider the amount of spousal support they pay or receive to be fair. However, careful planning and open communication can mitigate some of the financial pain that comes with divorce.

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