Marital Standard of Living & Its Impact on Spousal Support

Understanding the Concept of Marital Standard of Living

The marital standard of living (MSOL) refers to the lifestyle that you and your spouse enjoyed during your marriage. Courts typically look at the marital standard of living in the latter part of the marriage, giving a clearer picture of the lifestyle you are both accustomed to.

Why Is the Marital Standard of Living So Important?

This is a key factor considered by courts in spousal support cases, particularly for determining the amount of support a dependent spouse may receive. If you were financially reliant on your spouse and the marriage afforded a comfortable lifestyle, you can argue for spousal support that allows you to maintain a similar standard of living after the divorce. On the other side, if you were the primary earner and the lifestyle was more modest, you might argue for a lower spousal support amount.

However, it is important to note that the courts typically use statutory calculations as the most determinative factor in spousal support matters. The MSOL should be accounted for in these calculations and only in rare cases will the marital standard of living need to be separately accounted for. You can speak with an experienced divorce and spousal support attorney to discuss whether assessing your MSOL is necessary in your case.

Methods for Assessing MSOL

When it comes to assessing the marital standard of living, courts and financial experts utilize a variety of methodologies to paint an accurate picture. These methods often involve a detailed analysis of historical financial data, including income statements, tax returns, bank statements, and expense receipts.

They may also consider the duration of the marriage with regard to the standard of living in the latter years (which may be more indicative of the couple's established lifestyle) and any significant changes in spending or income. This thorough evaluation helps to ensure that the determined MSOL is fair and reflective of the couple's actual living standard during their marriage.

Lifestyle Analysis in Spousal Support Cases

A lifestyle analysis is a forensic tool used in spousal support cases to establish a clear picture of the marital standard of living. This process involves a meticulous review of the couple's spending patterns, savings, and investments.

It provides a factual basis for determining the supported spouse's needs and the paying spouse's ability to pay. The outcome of a lifestyle analysis can significantly influence the spousal support awarded, as it directly correlates to the standard of living that both parties have become accustomed to and may expect to maintain following the divorce.

Challenges in Quantifying Marital Standard of Living

One of the primary challenges in quantifying the marital standard of living is the potential for discrepancies in income and expense reporting. In some cases, spouses may underreport income or overstate expenses in an attempt to influence spousal support determinations.

Such inaccuracies can skew the assessment of MSOL, leading to unfair support orders. To mitigate these issues, courts rely on financial experts who conduct thorough investigations, including forensic accounting and lifestyle analyses.

Another challenge in assessing the marital standard of living is accounting for non-monetary contributions. In many marriages, one spouse may contribute significantly to the household in ways that do not have a direct financial value, such as child-rearing, homemaking, or supporting the other spouse's career.

These contributions can be difficult to quantify but are essential in understanding the full scope of the MSOL. Courts do consider these factors and how they contributed to the couple's lifestyle, ensuring that the spousal support awarded reflects the true nature of the marital partnership.

The attorneys at Letterio & Haug, LLP can answer your questions about spousal support and help you develop a case strategy for your spousal support case. Call (845) 203-0997 to schedule a consultation today.

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