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When is “standard of living” considered in awarding alimony?

On Behalf of | Mar 25, 2022 | Family Law

One of the most difficult parts of divorce for some people isn’t losing their spouse. They may be relieved and happy to have them out of their lives – or at least no longer an everyday presence. It’s losing the lifestyle or “standard of living” they had during the marriage – at least in the most recent years.

You don’t always have to lose that – especially if your spouse has enough money to continue to provide that through alimony (also known as spousal support), and you can show you deserve to receive it. Standard of living is one of the possible considerations when a North Dakota court determines alimony.

What factors do judges look at?

If a couple can’t work out a spousal support agreement on their own, a judge will need to make the determination. If a husband or wife is seeking support in part to help them maintain their marital standard of living, a judge will look at a number of factors.

For example, is the spouse seeking support unable to provide that for themselves – perhaps because they’ve been out of the workforce, or they don’t have the education, skills, or talent necessary (at least at the present time)?

Did the spouse seeking support contribute to their husband or wife’s success through their own work or sacrifice? A common example would be a spouse who didn’t finish college so they could get a job and help put their husband or wife through medical school and support the family. Then they stayed home with the kids while their spouse built up a hugely successful practice.

What if the standard of living was a mirage?

One thing that could burst that hope of maintaining a comfortable standard of living is whether or not it was “artificial.” Divorce often uncovers all sorts of financial “corpses” buried by a spouse. Maybe a seemingly successful farmer is actually drowning in debt, unbeknownst to their spouse, and that standard of living they were enjoying was about to crumble.

If you believe you deserve – and your spouse can afford — support payments that will allow you to continue to maintain your standard of living (or something close to it), having experienced legal and financial guidance can help you successfully seek that.