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Why is standard of living important in a divorce?

The division of one house into two in a divorce means that income, assets and debts will be divided in a certain manner between the divorcing couple. Usually, one spouse, the one who was earning more money during the marriage, financially supports the other spouse for some time after the divorce is finalized. One of the purposes of this is to ensure that the receiving spouse can continue to enjoy the same standard of living to which they have become accustomed. But, what does this phrase mean and is this even possible?

This basically means that the court is supposed to consider the paying spouse's income to determine if he or she earns enough to afford the same standard of living. Usually, this is not possible, as the same income now has to support two households at the same economic level as before the marriage had ended. Regardless of the income, the court should still be looking at the standard of living and making an alimony decision based on that.

The importance of standard of living is that it puts a cap on the amount of spousal support the receiving spouse may get and it also works as a foundation for spousal support modification in the future. For example, if the paying spouse's income increases, then they can argue that they are already providing enough support for the receiving spouse to have their standard of living and they should not have to pay more. On the other hand, the receiving spouse can also point to the same standard and ask for more alimony, if they are living below what they used to previously.

Addressing these issues appropriately initially is always better than coming back to them years later when both sides are engaged in a bitter fight over spousal support. It might be beneficial to consult an experienced attorney to ensure all relevant issues are covered in the divorce agreement.

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