Lifestyle & Divorce: How “Marital Standard of Living” Affects Spousal Support Orders

Lifestyle & Divorce: How “Marital Standard of Living” Affects Spousal Support Orders
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FAQ: What factors will a judge weigh most heavily when assessing the Marital Standard of Living?

The marital standard of living (MSOL) is one of the many factors that are set out in the California Family Code that are to be considered by a divorce court in the determination of spousal support. Our FPS team weighs in on this tricky topic:

Michelle Stowell

“The marital standard of living incorporates a number of factors – including savings during marriage. If, during marriage, the parties regularly saved money – whether it be in retirement accounts, savings accounts, or other investments – the court may consider the savings history of the parties during marriage when determining the actual marital standard of living. So even if the parties lived modestly while married, the court may still make a rather large spousal support order based on the fact that a significant amount of the parties’ income went into savings and/or investments rather than financing a lavish lifestyle.”

Matt Purcell

“The marital standard of living incorporates a number of factors – including savings during marriage. If, during marriage, the parties regularly saved money – whether it be in retirement accounts, savings accounts, or other investments – the court may consider the savings history of the parties during marriage when determining the actual marital standard of living. So even if the parties lived modestly while married, the court may still make a rather large spousal support order based on the fact that a significant amount of the parties’ income went into savings and/or investments rather than financing a lavish lifestyle.”

Kristen Sellers

“Courts generally look at the respective incomes and expenses of the parties when determining MSOL. This makes sense given that most people spend what they earn, but what if the parties are living well beyond their means? Expenses such as lavish vacations, frequent dining out, and expensive cars and houses may establish the extravagant lifestyle the parties were accustomed to, but champagne taste on a beer budget won’t help much when trying to establish a higher spousal support award. When parties have been living well beyond their means, the court will likely rely heavily on the parties’ actual income when determining MSOL.”

Kristen L. Sellers, CFLS

Purcell Stowell PC

Purcell Stowell PC is a Folsom-Based full-service Family Law Firm that serves clients throughout California. The firm’s founders are recognized by the State Bar of California’s Board of Legal Specialization as Certified Family Law Specialists and regularly represent business owners, professionals, and other high net worth individuals (or their spouses) in divorce, premarital agreements, guardianships, and related actions.

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Purcell Stowell PC

Purcell Stowell PC is a Folsom-Based full-service Family Law Firm that serves clients throughout California. The firm’s founders are recognized by the State Bar of California’s Board of Legal Specialization as Certified Family Law Specialists and regularly represent business owners, professionals, and other high net worth individuals (or their spouses) in divorce, premarital agreements, guardianships, and related actions.