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Assessing the marital standard of living in an alimony dispute

On Behalf of | Mar 31, 2021 | divorce |

Recently on the blog we discussed some of the general aspects of alimony in Delaware. You can find that post here. As you can see from that post, there are a number of factors that can come into play when a court determines whether alimony is appropriate and, if so, how much should be awarded. While those factors might seem pretty straightforward on their face, they might have nuances that need to be understood if you hope to position yourself for success in your alimony dispute.

How is the marital standard of living determined?

One major aspect that a court will consider in your alimony dispute is the standard of living that was enjoyed during the course of the marriage. But what, exactly, goes into a determination of the marital standard of living? A lot of things may be taken into account. A court might consider the home that you lived in with your spouse as well as the kinds of vacations that you took, if any, and even the types of things you and your spouse did for fun on a regular basis. Even the kinds of restaurants you ate at could be indicative of the lifestyle that you enjoyed during your marriage.

Beware of an artificial lifestyle

It’s important to note that the standard of living analysis will only focus on what you and your spouse could actually afford. If your lifestyle was primarily debt-driven, then a court may consider the standard of living portrayed as artificial and therefore not indicative of what the paying spouse should owe to the receiving spouse.

Don’t overlook the role savings can play

On the other hand, if your standard of living was relatively modest because you and your spouse saved a lot, then the court should take those savings into account when considering what your standard of living should look like post-divorce. This means that in preparation for you divorce you’ll want to secure all financial records and, if necessary, engage a forensic accountant if you suspect that your spouse has been hiding assets from you.

Understand the court’s approach to reasonableness

At its heart, alimony is meant to ensure that a lower earning spouse, and perhaps one who gave up career prospects to care for a family or further their spouse’s own career, has what he or she needs to meet basic living expectations post-divorce. Yet, an alimony award can position an individual for a more comfortable life than just the minimum standard of living. This is because the court is going to consider what type of award is necessary to give the receiving spouse a reasonably similar standard of living post-divorce. Of course, the court is going to take into account each party’s ability to meet that standard on their own, which is why other factors, such as an individual’s earning capacity, may be taken into account in these matters. In other words, a court likely won’t be sympathetic to an individual who seeks to forego work in exchange for a large alimony award.

Do you know how to develop the arguments that you need?

Divorce matters can be fraught with emotion while at the same time carrying enormous financial implications. The combination of these two elements can make it challenging to see things clearly, especially when you’re trying to consider your financial wellbeing in the long-term and your knowledge of the law is minimal. That’s why skilled family law attorneys like ours stand ready to help you assess your situation and develop the strong legal arguments that you need to position yourself for success. So, if you’re in the midst of an alimony dispute, or any other divorce-related issue, consider browsing the rest of our website to see what we have to offer.