Divorce comes with a lot of changes and one of the biggest is typically the reduction of income each member of a couple experiences when they separate from their spouse. For some people, especially those that make significantly less than their spouse or those that don’t work at all, they may worry about what will happen to the lifestyle they have become accustomed to. This is called a marital standard of living and is typically taken into account when a judge is determining alimony judgements.
What is a Marital Standard of Living?
“Marital standard of living” refers to the degree of comfort you and your spouse enjoyed during your marriage. This includes the home you lived in, the vacations you took, restaurants you ate at, and the overall lifestyle that you lived.
If one spouse makes significantly more than another, it is impossible for the two parties to enjoy the same standard of living after a divorce. Establishing standard of living during divorce proceedings determines the amount of spousal support (alimony) that should be paid to the spouse that earns less.
When to Worry About Establishing Standard of Living
Establishing standard of living is important for couples in which a high standard of living was enjoyed.
It is inevitable that going from a two income household to a one income household will cause major changes, but establishing standard of living is meant to keep post-divorce changes to a minimum. Alimony is, first and foremost, meant to ensure that your basic financial needs are met.
If you were living above your means as a couple and went into debt to enjoy a high standard of living, your spouse will not be obligated to pay alimony that keeps you at that standard. This is known as an artificial standard of living and a court will not force you or your spouse further into debt to finance this lifestyle.
How to Establish Marital Standard of Living During a Divorce
It is important to know that just because you enjoyed annual European vacations and drove luxury cars during your marriage that you are not necessarily entitled to alimony that will allow you to continue enjoying those things.
Because alimony is meant to ensure that your basic financial needs are taken care of (your “reasonable needs”), you will have to present these needs to the judge. For example, a four-bedroom house could be considered a reasonable need if you have several children, but for a couple with no kids, that will not be entertained as a need.
To establish the marital standard of living, begin by listing your typical monthly income and expenses as a couple. The court will then decide which of these expenses are reasonable and which are unreasonable. This is up to the judge’s discretion. One judge may find weekly manicures reasonable, while another may find it excessive.
This list of monthly expenses will be used to determine the marital standard of living and the amount of spousal support that will be paid by whom.
Contact The Doyle Law Group for Assistance Establishing Your Marital Standard of Living
The attorneys at The Doyle Law Group can help you establish your marital standard of living so you have a higher chance of getting the spousal support you deserve. To schedule your consultation, call us at (919) 263-5629 or fill out the contact form below.
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