As a certified professional mediator who specializes in divorce mediation and also directs Idaho’s largest district court mediation services, Barkes deal with matters such as spousal support on a very regular basis. According to Barkes, here are some things to consider:
1) Spousal support is not a male/female matter. It is a byproduct of income disparities. In the United States, roughly 25% of marriages are non-traditional in that the women in these marriages out-earn their partners. It is not a celebrity issue but rather an issue increasingly faced by the reduction of glass ceilings and an increase in successful ladies.
2) When it comes to celebrities or any individual who are extremely high earners, it is not uncommon for their partner’s careers to take a backseat to the primary income generating career. Consequently, when those marriages fail, there is often a case to be made for spousal support. This isn’t a punishment, it is a way to create an equitable way for both partners to fairly re-establish themselves post marriage.
3) Spousal support is not a given. Some states, such as Idaho don’t readily award spousal support and if it is awarded, there is not always a set formula for calculating the amount of support.
4) Many times, spousal support is agreed upon in mediation and is a figure both parties deem fair or reasonable based on their own unique situation. They know who contributed what to the marriage and they know the financial realities both face moving forward past the divorce. It is not uncommon for the higher income generating spouse to share a generous amount of financial resources, above what a court would offer, because they are aware of their continued earning potential versus that of their partner’s. In addition, it can often be cheaper to settle these matters in mediation rather than throwing a potentially larger amount of money away in attorney’s fees and a long drawn out court process that takes away from a celebrity’s creative energy. Further, this can be a way for parties to reduce the risk of a potentially brutal court ruling.
5) Anna Faris, Madonna, Mel B, Elizabeth Taylor, Kim Basinger and many others have paid spousal support and many more capable women will follow. One way to avoid spousal support is to have a prenuptial agreement drafted prior to entering into a marriage. Just as the earning capacity of women has changed over time, so too, has the thought process of relationships and marriage. No longer do people marry young and have many babies to provide extra hands for the family farm. Consequently, marriages can be more transactional and with the change in how we view marriages, we should also change our expectations about how we exit from them.
6) If women are paying spousal support, it means we have some great women to celebrate for their successful contributions to the world. With success comes many benefits but also extra liabilities and potentially negative consequences. Succeed anyway but be smart and seek legal and financial advice from experts to minimize losses if things don’t go as planned.
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Available for Interviews: Carol Barkes
Carol Barkes is a trend-setting mediator, business executive and educator specializing in the use of neuroscience to improve business performance, interpersonal communications, negotiation and conflict resolution processes for optimally successful results.
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