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Helpful Tips for Negotiating a Spousal Support Agreement

Published August 12, 2020
Negotiating an alimony agreement is one of the most challenging aspects of divorce, so it’s key to understand what to expect. By educating yourself on your legal options and keeping your emotions out of the negotiations, you can walk away from your marriage feeling empowered.

While there are many aspects to a divorce, reaching an equitable alimony agreement (also known as spousal support) can be quite difficult. Typically, alimony is one of the final pieces of the divorce agreement, as it tends to be complex and contentious. As you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse prepare yourselves for the divorce process, it’s important to understand how spousal support is negotiated so that you can adjust your expectations accordingly. Let’s explore some helpful tips on how to make the alimony negotiation process a success, allowing you to move on with your life feeling empowered and secure.

Tip #1: Create a Realistic Budget for Yourself

As you prepare to negotiate spousal support payments with your ex, it’s useful to understand what your monthly budget will look like after your divorce. Think about where you will live, what that will cost per month, your healthcare costs, utilities, car payments, and other expenses that you will have to cover yourself once your divorce is finalized. Once you have a clearer picture of your monthly expenses, you will be able to make more informed decisions about how much support you will need (or how much you would be able to pay to your ex-spouse). It’s also important to know what your individual earning capacity will be, especially if you’ve put your career on hold to raise your children. How do you plan to re-enter the workforce? What training will you need? Creating a plan for how you will eventually support yourself once you are newly independent is key to a successful alimony negotiation.

Tip #2: Take Your Time When Making Decisions

While you may be tempted to rush through your divorce so that you can move on with your life, it’s critical that you take all the time you need to carefully weigh your options. Many of these decisions carry long-term ramifications, so it’s essential that you make deliberate choices that will positively impact your future. For example, some individuals may elect to waive alimony altogether, thinking that they will simply figure it out on their own and their finances will be fine eventually. In most cases, waiving alimony is a permanent decision, so it’s wise to at least create a small payment agreement that simply keeps the option open for future modifications. You never know what life may throw at you, and you’ll be relieved to have the option to renegotiate alimony payments if it becomes necessary in the future.

Tip #3: Maintain a Clear and Neutral Approach to Alimony Discussions

Discussions about money and finances can quickly become emotional and dramatic, which makes it difficult to reach an equitable agreement. As much as possible, try to keep your emotions out of spousal support negotiations, focusing instead on practical matters of making sure you and your spouse are supported enough to forge your new, independent lives. If one spouse starts screaming at the other spouse and demanding that they give them everything, the other spouse will likely become defensive and contentious, creating a toxic and costly legal battle—not to mention additional stress on both spouses during this already challenging time. Try to detach yourself from the emotional aspects of this process, allowing yourself to keep your eyes on the eventual outcome and freedom that you will enjoy once your divorce is finalized.


To learn more about spousal support negotiations, or the divorce process in general, reach out to Lee Tyler Family Law, P.C. today at (503) 233-8868 to schedule an appointment with a friendly and experienced Portland divorce and family law attorney.

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