Duration of Spousal Support
In assisting parties to reach agreement with regard to the issue of the duration of spousal support, it may be helpful to assist them to identify the changes that they may anticipate in their lives over the coming years, such as receiving a college or graduate degree, one or more children leaving the home, entering retirement, or the like that may set forth some planning structure. Parties usually desire some rationale for determining the duration of spousal support. For example, many attorneys will report a "rule of thumb" that spousal support is typically awarded for a period of one-half the duration of a marriage in the circumstance of a long-term marriage. If these type of principles make sense for the parties, then the mediator may be well served to offer such a standard for the parties' consideration. It may also be persuasive for the parties to "staircase" down reliance upon spousal support either for some anticipatory period before the end of the measured period, or as a kind of "severance" arrangement on the tail end of the spousal support period.