Many married couples in California have gotten used to a very comfortable lifestyle, perhaps because of their combined income or largely due to one spouse’s income. When couples in that latter category divorce, the lesser-earning spouse often is worried that they’ll lose their marital standard of living.
If you’re that lesser-earning spouse in a couple or perhaps you’re not employed outside the home, you have a right to be concerned about your financial well-being post-divorce. Even if you get half of your marital assets, what about your ongoing expenses? This is where a good spousal support agreement can make all the difference.
Marital standard of living is one factor in determining spousal support
Under California law, one of the factors considered in determining spousal support is the “extent to which the earning capacity of each party is sufficient to maintain the standard of living established during the marriage.” Maybe you left the workplace to raise children. Perhaps your spouse’s income allowed you to devote your time to charitable endeavors. You may have even worked to put them through medical school or to provide an income while they got a once-fledgling business off the ground.
These are all factors that can and should be considered during negotiations or litigation. Others include the length of the marriage, age and health and whether you’re caring for any dependent children or other family members.
The standard of living must be real
It’s crucial that both spouses are honest and transparent in disclosing all sources of income and all assets as well as debts. In some cases, it’s not until a couple divorces that one spouse learns that their standard of living has been “artificial.” It was built on a mountain of debt – or even fraud or other criminal activity.
Assuming that’s not the case, you may have every right to seek a settlement (including spousal support) that will allow you to continue a standard of living provided by your spouse that you can’t attain on your own. Having sound legal guidance is the first step in determining how to proceed.