When a couple is married in New York, that usually means that they are living in the same residence, making mortgage or rent payments on that place, and splitting income and expenditures in some fashion or the other. Yet, the funds that are used to pay these expenses usually come out of the same pool. When a couple divorces though, they are suddenly in a situation where the expenses are doubled, with two houses to run and maintain, but the incomes and assets are either the same or halved. For example, if one partner was working and the house was running on his or her income and then he or she divorces, that partner may then have to pay alimony to support two houses.
As mentioned previously on this blog, the courts usually award spousal maintenance or alimony to one party, to be paid by the other, in an effort to balance out financial disparities for a certain period of time. One of the factors the court considers when making such a determination is the standard of living enjoyed during marriage, as the alimony payment may be adjusted so as to allow a receiving party to maintain that same standard of living post-divorce. But is this outcome even possible, given the scenario outlined above?
The court will not and cannot award more than a couple has. For example, the celebrity divorces that come into the news often involve situations where the parties are enjoying a highly extravagant standard of living and the paying spouse makes a significant amount more than the receiving spouse. This is not the case in most marriages. Courts consider standard of living when a couple was living above their means and do not force the paying spouse to maintain the same standard through alimony, incurring debts to continue to live a certain way. Similarly, if a couple was living below their means in order to save money, the court will adjust alimony according to the sacrifices made by each party to collect those savings.
Standard of living is definitely something the courts consider when calculating alimony, but there are different ways it is factored in. it might be beneficial to consult an experienced attorney to ensure that an accurate standard is portrayed during divorce proceedings so that one can obtain the financial support he or she needs post-divorce.