If you're a man preparing for a divorce and searching for information on alimony, you're likely only finding tips and advice aimed towards guys trying to avoid paying alimony to their spouses. However, many men actually qualify for payments from their spouses instead of handing over their money for years and decades to come. If you're hoping to reverse the gender trend, talk over these five tips with your divorce attorney.
Highlight Your Personal Choices
Since most judges are used to hearing requests from women instead of men, you may face bias during your case that is complete unconscious on the judge's part. This means you need to frame your case in a way that makes it clear you aren't simply trying to avoid supporting yourself financially. Collect evidence to show how you made personal choices, such as turning down a promotion to spend more time with your family which can leave you at a lower income bracket than your spouse.
You didn't have to give up on work completely and become a stay-at-home dad to request alimony, although that kind of lifestyle certainly qualifies you for spousal support. As long as there was an income inequality in your marriage and you enjoyed a quality of life you can't sustain on your own, you can demonstrate how ongoing payments will balance this inequality out.
Don't forget to mention about work you do to maintain and repair your home, as well as anything you did to help your spouse get ahead at work, like cleaning and cooking for a business dinner party.
Avoid Feeling Emasculated
Don't let the statistics and popular opinions about spousal support deter you from seeking it. Even women face ridicule and accusations of laziness when receiving this kind of support, so men often avoid alimony because they're afraid friends and family members will think poorly of them. If the judge awards you spousal support payments, you deserved them according to your state's laws regardless of your gender or lifestyle. Consider booking a few visits with a therapist if you feel too conflicted and how alimony can impact your feelings.
Prepare for Complications
In most cases, requests for spousal support make divorce proceedings a lot more complicated. Are you hoping for your separation to wrap up in just a few months? Unless you can get your spouse to agree to an alimony arrangement from the beginning with no arguments about the amount, expect to spend a lot more time in court and your lawyer's office than if you accept a lump sum payment or stick solely to the division of assets.
Since even well-meaning judges can make unfair decisions due to unconscious gender bias, it's best to try and settle the alimony argument out of court entirely. Ask your lawyer to prepare an offer and a few counteroffers before going in front of the judge to see if you and your spouse can work something out on your own. Other benefits of direct negotiation include
- Higher monthly payment amounts and longer support agreements, since many judges only approve the bare minimum
- Faster divorce settlements
- Better asset divisions and bigger lump sum payments offered in exchange for dropping your request for alimony.
Be Honest About Disabilities
If you ended up disabled after getting married and lived for years with the support of your spouse, you've got one of the best shots at being awarded spousal support. Be honest in presenting any money you receive from government disability programs, even when those payments lower the amount of alimony sent each month. You don't want the judge's decision reversed later in an appeal because you faked illness or covered up other sources of income. Many disabled spouses qualify for permanent support, but those payments can still be overturned if you're dishonest during the original court case.