Divorce Mediator Kimberley Keyes examines how alimony buyouts can greatly increase flexibility after a divorce.
One of the biggest benefits to mediating a divorce, as opposed to litigating it, is that you and your spouse have much more power to choose what is best for your particular situation. Mediation broadens the options available to you in deciding complex issues such as division of assets, and how best to handle alimony. One such option is to arrange for a lump sum alimony payment, rather than a regular and recurring support payment.
Called an alimony buyout, this can be an excellent option for spouses who have the means to make the payment all at once, and for those who feel financially secure enough to prefer the flexibility of a lump-sum payment rather than the safety net of a recurring payment.
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How Alimony Usually Works in Massachusetts
In a Massachusetts divorce case, the spouse who is financially dependent may be entitled to alimony. The amount and duration of these support payments are determined by many factors, including the length of the marriage, the health and age of the separating spouses, the marital lifestyle, each spouse’s economic contribution and sacrifice to the marriage, and each spouse’s employability, after the divorce.
Recurring alimony payments mean both spouses will interact with each other on a regular basis, with the spouse paying the alimony continuing to support the spouse who is receiving it. This continued reliance and support can create tension. For example, if the paying spouse wants to make a career change that would slash his or her income, the alimony commitment might prevent him or her from pursuing such a change, while the recipient spouse might have a hard time getting the payments regularly, or in their full amount.
How Alimony Buyouts Can Create Flexibility for Both Spouses
An alimony buyout, while steep on the front end, can eliminate the potential for long term tension.
From the perspective of the spouse who is making the alimony payments, an alimony buyout can create long-term financial stability and flexibility. By executing the alimony commitment at one time, financially stable spouses can move into their post-divorce life with the knowledge that they will not be legally required to make enough money to support their ex-spouse in the future. This allows them to make life decisions down the road that promote their own personal well-being, rather than strictly for their financial reasons.
A buyout can also increase the financial flexibility of spouses who would have stood to receive regular alimony payments. The lump sum that they receive up front can provide the means and resources to make the significant life change that will start the post-divorce life they hope to achieve.
Alimony Buyouts Are Not for Everyone
Just because alimony buyouts can add flexibility to your post-divorce life, however, does not mean it is right for your situation and the answer to all of your concerns. The lump sum payment can be significant, making a buyout impossible for some couples who do not have the assets on hand.
Additionally, the flexibility that alimony buyouts provide is not always a good thing because it comes at a cost: The financial security of a regular payment.
Together, the steep cost up front and the loss of financial security make alimony buyouts an option that is probably best for couples with two incomes and vibrant professional lives, and of course the assets necessary to make the lump-sum payment up front.
Avoid Retainers with Pay-As-You-Go Mediation
Worried about paying a retainer for your mediation? Don’t be. South Shore Divorce Mediation now offers pay-as-you-go mediation. With pay-as-you-go mediation, you avoid retainers, up front payments and financial commitments. Call and schedule your first mediation session today at (781) 253-2049.
Kim is a divorce mediator for South Shore Divorce Mediation, located in Hingham, Massachusetts and East Sandwich, Massachusetts. She is also a Senior Associate Attorney for Lynch & Owens, P.C., where she specializes in divorce and family law issues. Kim is a statutory mediator under M.G.L. Ch. 233, s. 23C and a proud member of the Massachusetts Council on Family Mediation. To read more from Kim Keyes, check out her author page on the Lynch & Owens Blog.
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