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Standards of living and their effect on alimony

The process of moving on from divorce can prove particularly difficult, especially if you are not the primary income provider in your marriage. To address this frequent difficulty, and the prospect of transitioning into life as a single person with all the increase in expense that may bring, courts often award some form of alimony. Alimony awards intend to alleviate the financial pressures of divorce on a spouse who does not have the resources to provide for him or herself, or as a measure of compensation to a spouse who sacrificed personal enrichment for the sake of a marriage.

A number of factors affect a court when it weighs whether or not to award alimony or how much to award, such as the age and employability of the receiving spouse, the length of the marriage, and the standard of living that the couple enjoyed during the marriage. If there is a significant disparity between the income of one spouse and the income of the other, and especially if one spouse does not work at all, then standard of living is a considerable factor.

However, in some instances, a court may determine that a couple who divorces enjoyed an unsustainable or artificial standard of living. This may affect how much the standard of living weighs in the court's decision. If, for instance, a court recognizes that a couple enjoyed a certain standard of living by taking on increasing debt rather than through significant income, then it will not award one spouse alimony based on that standard.

If you have questions about your own circumstances and how your standard of living may affect your future potential alimony, take time to closely examine the details of the laws that apply to divorce and alimony. These laws change frequently, so it is important to make sure you approach your divorce with an up-to-date legal strategy that protects your rights and interests during your transition back into life as a single person.

Source: FindLaw, "How Does 'Standard of Living' Impact Spousal Support?," George Khoury, accessed March 30, 2018

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