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#773180 - 04/03/17 04:41 PM Re: Working through to establish my Spousal Support [Re: Wren]
TJMH Offline

enthusiast

Registered: 07/17/15
Posts: 347
If either of you believe you have a case to get spousal support changed due to "change of circumstances" you still have to go to court and get a judge to modify the order. Keep in mind that for the receiver spousal support is based mostly on need (up to the marital standard but not higher).

If his income is increased or he comes into his inheritance, I believe it's unlikely that you could get spousal support increased (but ask your lawyer, it may be worth a shot especially if current support is limited by his ability to pay and leaves you both well below MSOL).

If his income is reduced but he has substantial assets (if he has gotten the inheritance for example) I think the judge would probably order him to continue to pay at the established rate--he would still be judged as having the ability to pay. If he lost his job and had no income and no prospects (disability, for example) and no assets to draw on he could likely get a reduction.

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#773181 - 04/03/17 07:03 PM Re: Working through to establish my Spousal Support [Re: Wren]
TJMH Offline

enthusiast

Registered: 07/17/15
Posts: 347
[quote=Wren]Thank you so much for your point of reference! Very helpful, and actually, encouraging for me to hear. I plan to get my Life Coach certification, and I do intend to make a "real" income going forward. Who is paying for her education - is that part of the settlement? If you stayed married, would she have still wanted to teach, or stay unemployed?

Did you and your ex-wife settle on modifiable or non-modifiable support? Are you in California? I assume you mediated? Since your situation sounds so close to mine, I am very interested in hearing more about how you walked through it all.

Our mediation is Wednesday, and I really want to go into that meeting as prepared as possible, with the right attitude and stance.

Thanks! [/quote]

Well, our situation regarding her employment is not straightforward. She has a business that she has run for the last 10 years or so mostly as a hobby business with little income. I could have pushed the issue that she could have closed her business and taken a job in that industry instead without a need for further training. So she's paying for the education to change careers.

She might have decided to go into teaching if we'd stayed married.

We haven't settled on support yet, we're still in the process of negotiating and probably won't settle until after she's employed so we'll know what kind of income she's bringing. I expect that we'll settle on a number but the court will retain jurisdiction so it will be modifiable.

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#773182 - 04/03/17 08:27 PM Re: Working through to establish my Spousal Support [Re: Wren]
MinnesotaMom Offline

old hand

Registered: 01/05/11
Posts: 792
I assume you are asking for lifetime alimony. Even with his inheritance, the amount could be reduced later. The courts and judges vary greatly, but probably none of them will force someone to pay alimony based on income past 70 years old. Many go by a lower age, but 65 is probably the lowest. The expectation is that folks are allowed to eventually retire and can't be forced to work to pay debt. Of course, there are so many variables and that is quite a few years away.

Have you considered lump sum alimony? It's where you get it all at once.

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#773183 - 04/04/17 12:33 AM Re: Working through to establish my Spousal Support [Re: Wren]
TJMH Offline

enthusiast

Registered: 07/17/15
Posts: 347
My advice in terms of attitude going into mediation:

1. Be committed to settling without going to court. Look at that as a very last resort, and keep in mind that it will cost both the "winner" and the loser a ton of money and take a lot of time. The only real winners will be your lawyers.

2. Try to keep emotion out of it. Don't try to punish the other person for "bad behavior" during the marriage. Keep it business.

3. Try to have an idea what is fair in a settlement. Know what your deal breakers are, but be willing to bend (some) if it means settling without going to court.

It sounds like in your situation the main issues will be property division and spousal support.

On property division you want to have a decent idea what assets and debts you're talking about (should come right out of your financial disclosure forms that you probably already did), and what you would consider a fair division. It can be helpful to make a list (spreadsheet is excellent if you have this skill) of all major property items (house, cars, bank accounts, etc.), what you consider the value of each and how much goes to each party. If you have tax-deferred retirement accounts (IRA or 401K), it's best to equalize those separately from other assets. And don't forget that debts (marital credit cards, mortgage) are also split.

Keep in mind that although 50-50 on property is the "baseline" in CA, in a stipulated judgment you can make any division of property that suits you as long as the two of you agree. So as MM suggests you could agree to take a larger share of assets and forgo or agree to reduced spousal support if that makes more sense, or vice versa. In that regard remember that ongoing spousal support is taxable income to the recipient, deductible for the payer. Transfer of marital property is generally a nontaxable event--so for example if he pays you $12K in alimony you'll owe income tax on it, but if he gives you $12K extra in cash from your joint savings account you won't.

On spousal support, it would probably help to have a bogey for what you think is fair and reasonable (a good starting point might be something like 10-20% less than temporary support, assuming your other income has stayed about the same) and written notes on your assessment of each of the Family Code 4320 factors that you think support that amount.

He may want to press for a firm date for termination of support and the court's jurisdiction, it's up to you whether you want to agree to that or have the court retain jurisdiction indefinitely (meaning that either of you could request a modification if circumstances change). That's a double-edged sword--if your income increases substantially and/or his is reduced, you could find your spousal support reduced or even wind up being ordered to pay him.



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#773650 - 06/09/17 04:16 PM Re: Working through to establish my Spousal Support [Re: Wren]
Wren Offline
recently joined

Registered: 03/26/17
Posts: 12
Well, 2 months later.....I have been off of here, and just now sat down and re-read through all the support here to my situation. What a difference in my level of understanding of all you have told me!

I think we are close to getting this all figured out. We met with our mediator last week and she finally was able to give us everything we need for us to sit down and decide together how to divide everything up. Our next appointment is next week and HOPEFULLY, during that appointment we will be able to come up with how we want everything divided, and the number for spousal support and sign off on it all.

I'm learning (as opposed to being deer in the headlights clueless!) what all the tax implications are, what's REALLY important in all of this ( we have been so blessed to remain peaceful, not perfect, by any means) - the understanding that we will both be financially fine, and it's not about all the "stuff" on our walls, etc. and that even though we will be divorced, we will always be family with our kids and grandkids, and maintaining a healthy relationship with no bitterness is what is really important!

So here I am, looking at our Schedule of Assets and trying to make sense of it all so I can sit down at the table with him and understand what it all means and not depend on him to explain it all to me.

The house is on the market!!! So that will be a no-brainer for the most part when it sells. Unless there's $$ below to negotiate the proceeds with?

We have a couple of Warhols that are worth significant $$'s.
His car is much older than mine - worth a lot less.
The FF miles/hotel points are significant (Think Up in the Air with George Clooney) - We've been talking about different scenarios with these.
Then there are the checking accounts, Life Insurance policies, stocks, mutual funds, and his 401k.

I've been pushing for higher spousal support, but after reading through here, I might be wanting to go to the table and push for lower ss and higher percentages elsewhere. I'm thinking that a visit with our UBS (where we have all of our investments) advisors may be in order for me to have a better understanding of what's in there and how that might benefit me more than having the higher spousal support.

One of the hardest things in all of this for me has been to know the questions to ask to get the knowledge I need to make the best decisions. Here I am again, kind of struggling with what to ask here. So I'll end and come back to see how you will help me.

THANK YOU!!

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#773653 - 06/09/17 08:50 PM Re: Working through to establish my Spousal Support [Re: Wren]
TJMH Offline

enthusiast

Registered: 07/17/15
Posts: 347
Glad things are moving along for you, and I appreciate the update. A couple of thoughts:

1. On "stuff on the walls" it sounds like you're taking the right approach--put values on big ticket items like art and cars, but don't sweat every pot & pan. At one point one of our lawyers suggested that we had to do a thorough inventory of all of our household goods and assign a fair market value to each item so we could calculate the division. We agreed that we were NOT going to do that. It was more like "you take the dining room set, I'll keep the living room furniture". For the agreement we just said the whole lot of personal property was something like $10,000 and we each considered that we'd gotten our half.

2. Keep in mind that term life insurance policies have no cash value, so don't really count in the property division. But if you want him to maintain a policy as surety on your spousal support you can negotiate that.

3. Seems like frequent flyer points would be hard to monetize, but I imagine your mediator or lawyer have seen that before and can advise.

4. Two points on spousal support vs. assets. One is, in addition to tax treatment, keep in mind time value of money. $10K cash now, invested and earning interest, is different from $10K paid out over time. I don't really know the math, but you probably want to consult with someone who does.

The other thought, again coming from the spousal support payer side, is that there's a psychological aspect to it. It's one thing to give your ex additional cash/property and be done with it, and quite another to have to write a check every single month to somebody you're no longer married to just because you used to be married. That may play into his assessment of the situation, so it would probably be helpful for you to be aware.

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#773657 - 06/10/17 04:53 PM Re: Working through to establish my Spousal Support [Re: TJMH]
Wren Offline
recently joined

Registered: 03/26/17
Posts: 12
TJMH - Thank you so much for your input!

I think I need to meet with our financial advisor and talk to him about your point 4 - paying the taxes on the spousal support sounds pretty painful, and if ultimately, I can save us both out of pocket $$'s, that may make us both happier.

If there is anyone on here who has negotiated frequent flyer miles through their divorce, I'd love to hear. Maybe I'll post separately.

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