Courts decide on spousal support using a variety of factors. The look, for instance, at the length of the marriage, the incomes and earning potentials of each spouse, the amount of property each spouse has after division, and so on. Among these considerations is the desire to maintain someone’s standard of living.
This consideration creates a problem for couples with a high net worth. Conceivably, the wealthier spouse could keep the other comfortable, and doing so would not impact their overall wealth. The court could, however, see this fact as unfair. It may order a higher amount of support than is necessary, attempting to “balance the scales.”
In this article, we will broadly explore how standard of living can apply to a high-net-worth spousal support ruling.
Determining the Standard of Living in a Divorce
Standard of living varies from couple to couple. If one couple consistently lives paycheck to paycheck, then the spousal support should give one spouse just enough to survive. Alternatively, if a couple is accustomed to living lavishly, spousal support should maintain that lifestyle.
When it comes to spousal support, the court attempts to fund the receiving spouse’s standard of living. It could rule that spousal support should meet the bare minimum to meet that need.
Therefore, the court can calculate the cost of regular evenings out, high-end purchases, vacations, and so on. Then, it can fold that expense into the spousal support ruling, adding it to the other factors such as earning potential, length of the marriage, and so on.
The court could, however, use a more equal, 50/50 approach. You may be able to afford your spouse’s lifestyle and still have plenty of assets left over. Some judges may see this as unfair, especially if you built your wealth during the marriage. They could ask you to pay more out of a sense of fairness.
Standard of Living Goes Both Ways
Spousal support should never leave the paying spouse struggling. They should be able to maintain their standard of living within reason.
If the court believes that a higher support payment is fairer, you should still be able to afford your lifestyle as well. Therefore, the court should leave you enough to continue having your nights out, large purchases, and so on.
Standard of Living Is Open to Interpretation
Imagine a wealthy celebrity who has a reputation for collecting vintage cars. Their spouse isn’t involved with the collection and doesn’t have much interest in it.
This collection could become a point of contention in a spousal support ruling. The collector could argue that regularly adding to their collection is a part of their current lifestyle, and they should keep enough money to continue doing so. The other spouse may believe that this collection is excessive and unnecessary, and it should not be considered part of a standard of living.
Ultimately, the court will determine which parts of someone’s lifestyle should be maintained and which should be sacrificed.
When you take your divorce to court, you are at the mercy of the court’s decisions. One judge may simply rule that spousal support should fund someone’s lifestyle, but another could decide that it must be completely equal, leaving each spouse with the same amount of money.
You need a good attorney who can help you argue for a balanced, reasonable spousal support payment. Family law is rarely an exact science. Much of it depends on a judge’s perceptions, biases, and so forth. Put simply, you need a lawyer who can help build a strong case for you. They must be able to cut through preconceptions, reminding the court to remain fair.
If you are concerned about spousal support in your divorce, our firm is here to help. Contact us today by calling (702) 904-9898 or filling out our online contact form.