This blog is a continuation of my bullet point series on divorce mediation that summarizes my past mediation blogs –
Maintenance, also know as alimony, can be discussed with your divorce mediator. How much money, if any, and for how long one spouse should pay the other maintenance needs to be discussed. Some couples each feel that they are capable of making enough money to be able to support themselves. In those cases, waivers of maintenance by each spouse is possible. Other times there is a feeling that one side of the relationship needs money over a period of time in order to be able to get back on their feet. If there is not an agreement about maintenance couples can be reminded that there are guidelines in the law, based on income, and the length of the marriage for how much and how long maintenance presumably should last. But they are just guidelines. Sometimes, if the couple wants to hear about the guidelines it might be a useful discussion to have regarding the topic of maintenance. In mediation, though, we are not bound to the statutory guidelines. The focus of the conversation could be about budgets and how much each side of the table needs in order to transition into their new lives and meet their monthly expenses.
Likewise, if there are minor children (under 21 for child support purposes), the payment of child support needs to be discussed. This topic too can center around budgets and how is everyone going to meet their monthly expenses and take care of the children. While couples are not bound by the statutory guidelines for child support, every agreement in child support, even if it deviates from the guideline amount of child support, must spell out what the statutory guidelines are in order for the agreement to be binding. Therefore, when I draft the settlement agreement the child support section will spell out the guideline amount of child support. Sometimes we might discuss the guideline numbers in the mediation sessions, but the parties will definitively know the guideline numbers before the agreement is signed. We can discuss and spell out legally recognized reasons for deviating from the guidelines in our mediations and mediated agreements. Continue reading