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Asking for alimony: What’s your ‘standard of living?’

On Behalf of | Dec 24, 2020 | Alimony |

Not every divorce will involve a claim for spousal support. Yet, in some cases, spouses have a right to petition for alimony if they are the dependent spouse (ie substantially dependent for their financial needs and maintenance). One part of determining an alimony award is to look at the standard of living they enjoyed during their marriage.

What affects a decision to award alimony?

There are many factors that contribute to an alimony order under North Carolina law. Family courts and spouses alike often must consider each spouses’ financial resources and needs during and after the marriage to determine an amount of reasonable financial support.

It is important to note that the marital standard of living can be a critical factor to consider in these cases.

How do spouses calculate the standard of living?

The marital standard of living is the degree of wealth that the family enjoyed during the marriage. In other words, it refers to the level of material comfort the spouses had.

This factor can play a significant role in determining alimony. But how do spouses actually know what their standard of living is? Financial experts generally consider elements such as:

  • Living expenses from the last three years;
  • Average household income, and each spouses’ income; and
  • Average spending habits with disposable income

A financial advisor or attorney will often evaluate the spouses’ tax returns to determine these amounts and calculate the standard of living during the marriage. It is also important to look at the debt-to-income ratio to determine if the standard of living has been artificially inflated through credit card debt.

It is important to note that the standard of living is just one of many potential factors that could affect a potential Order for Alimony. Speaking with an experienced family law attorney is important in determining which factors may be present and helpful in your case.