Mediating spousal support is often a challenge for divorcing families. Divorce raises a lot of fear for both participants. The higher-earning spouse fears not having enough money to pay support and their monthly living expenses, and the lower-earning spouse fears not receiving enough support to transition to a new higher-earning job or maintain their standard of living.
Both participants need to keep the other person’s needs and fears in mind. Both should try to enter their support discussion by treating the other person with dignity and respect during the negotiations.
Respectful negotiations require that each consider the other’s needs. Both participants should be open with their communications. Each should share their financial needs and expectations honestly and clearly.
Participants should also approach negotiations with an equitable mindset. Each person in the mediation faces many of the same emotions and challenges divorce causes. It is essential to recognize the different challenges that each is facing. Even if you or the other person is angry, each person should show empathy and understanding toward the other’s needs.
Many families in mediation will rely on friends and families for support. However, the mediation may be undermined if you are “telling tales” about the other person’s goals and interests. It does not benefit the support discussion if one spouse or the other is bad-mouthing the other to family or friends. Each should keep the other’s wants and needs private. Confidentiality is a hallmark of mediation, and complaining to mutual friends undermines your privacy and the other’s privacy.
Show flexibility toward each other and their changing situation. Support is not meant to punish one person or the other. Mediating in good faith toward an equitable solution requires considering possible changes to each person’s future situation. Consider revisiting spousal support obligations if significant changes exist in either party’s circumstances.
Finally, both clients should seek professional legal advice from a lawyer specializing in mediation support. This type of attorney will help you discuss suitable support options before you and your spouse start mediation discussions and help facilitate respectful communication between both parties.
Each situation is unique, and respectful spousal support requires flexibility and understanding. It is advisable to consult with a legal professional who can provide guidance tailored to your specific circumstances.