During your marriage, you and your spouse worked to build your future, both emotionally and financially. Depending on your incomes, asset availability, and goals they have set, you and your spouse had a particular standard of living. As you go through your divorce, many financial issues can come up, including this standard of living.
Standard of living is relevant in divorces because it determines spousal maintenance. In a divorce, one person might request spousal maintenance to help maintain the standard of living they enjoyed during the marriage. Unlike child support, there is no predetermined formula for a court to set spousal maintenance. Instead, the court looks at a wide variety of factors. These include each person’s ability to earn income in the future, the amount of education necessary to raise one person’s earning ability, and whether one person was generally a stay-at-home spouse.
The goal of spousal maintenance is to help an economically disadvantaged spouse maintain the standard of living they enjoyed during the marriage, to a reasonable degree. Ideally, you and your spouse have already come to an agreement on whether spousal maintenance will be part of your divorce. If you have not, then how the court sees the issue might be of some help. If one spouse is requesting spousal maintenance, the court requires a list of expenses from both spouses. Whether those expenses are reasonable is measured against the standard of living that the parties enjoyed during the marriage.
For example, if the couple lived a lavish lifestyle that included high mortgage payments and frequent vacations, listing those expenses on an expense statement submitted to the court could be considered reasonable. New lavish expenses, however, such as extra spa trips or expensive cars, could be ruled out as unreasonable. For a divorce going through the court system, the court will consider the reasonableness of these expenses as well as other spousal maintenance factors, including each party’s income, and decide what amount of spousal support is appropriate to assist the economically disadvantaged spouse to maintain an approximately equal standard of living.
Spousal maintenance is a highly fact-dependent inquiry and each case is different. Diyvorce can help you sort out what makes sense for your divorce. Register today to gain access to additional information and assistance.
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