How to Discuss Alimony During Divorce

Discussing alimony when you are going through a divorce is fraught with anxiety and fear of conflict. If you both approach the discussion with a cool head and reasonable expectations, you can avoid much of the stress.


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    Determine the correct amount to discuss. Make sure you have consulted a family or divorce attorney who is licensed in your state and county. There are many aspects to calculating alimony in a divorce that you will be unaware of. Find out what the range should be (it is not a set number and can be modified by a judge). There is no point in wrangling about numbers if they have no basis in fact and may change significantly.
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    Set the stage. During a divorce no one is happy. You never marry someone with the intention of divorce, many hopes and dreams have died and this is when you bury them. Understanding that this process is difficult to the other person is key. You want to make sure things are equitable and hopefully they do too. In this vein, it is important to avoid setting a stage where anyone, yourself or them, will be uncomfortable or anxious.
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    Schedule a good time that works for everyone. Avoid your or their home if possible, a neutral spot that is quiet where you can take your time. Also, don't announce that you are going to discuss alimony in advance. Do not tell them "we need to talk so you don't get screwed". Keep it simple and non-confrontational.
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    Don't get yourself worked up before hand. The state has already set the alimony guidelines and you know what it should be. This is not the time for negotiating.
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    Don't jump right in discussing the alimony. That will be the tense part. Start by asking about small things such as how they are doing, how their work is going, etc. Ease into things, there's no rush or deadline. When it is appropriate to discuss alimony, you will know. Bring it up simply, matter of fact with no hesitation or indications that you are anxious or angry. Your emotions will feed them.
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    Tell them that you have talked with an attorney. Tell them the number you and your attorney feel is appropriate. Tell them why that number is appropriate but don't get into details, that is between your attorney and yourself. If they have not seen an attorney, encourage them to do so. When the papers are finalized, they will need a basis for disagreeing, if they do.
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    Do not get defensive or try to defend your numbers at length. Again, this is not a negotiation.
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    Wrap things up. When you are finished discussing alimony it should be time to wrap things up. Do not start talking about other difficult topics. Each topic has their turn and their time. Try to wind things down with other small talk like you did at the beginning. This will help calm tensions created from the discussion and keep each from having the impression that the other wants to be offensive and nasty. Keep track of the time and when it is time to leave, do so politely and confidently.
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    Do not let the other bait you with additional topics that are difficult and they know will get your dander up. Thank them for their time, get up and leave. You have done what you wanted and need to do. You are finished.
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    Follow up. When you are finished send an email to the other. Provide a brief recap of the pertinent things that were said about alimony.
    • If a number was agreed on, state that. If not, restate the number you gave them. Make it professional, brief and very clear.
    • Ask them for their confirmation that this is their recollection. It doesn't matter if they don't reply as "silence gives consent". If they do reply and say it was different than you said, consider it carefully. If you believe that it should be modified then rewrite your email and send that one asking for their confirmation.
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    If you do not agree, simply send an email to that affect and include your original narration. This is not legally binding but can be used to show the other's behavior if necessary. Primarily it is a good record to jog your and their memory in a time that dulls the memory considerably.
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    Let the attorneys finalize the issue. You have discussed alimony with your soon to be ex. There is no point in haggling, leave it in the hands of the attorneys. The best part is that knowing this number will allow you to budget and plan for your future that, although difficult in the short term, is going to be brighter and full of possibilities.


  • Recriminations will make everything worse.
  • Avoid going to common haunts.
  • Do not bring up any subjects that are sensitive to you or them.
  • Make sure it is only the two of you unless there is a fear for someone's safety.
  • Imagine you are in a business meeting with your boss and have to maintain civility and a professional demeanor at all time.


  • Private discussions will have no weight in a court of law.

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Categories: Divorce