Spousal support, also called alimony, is not calculated according to a state-standardized formula as child support is. The courts use a variety of different factors to determine a reasonable spousal support award.

Temporary spousal support is typically awarded after separation and during the divorce proceedings, but prior to finalization, is based mainly off of financial need. Long-term or permanent spousal support, finalized and enforceable with the divorce, is determined in a more holistic manner. A large part of this consideration is what standard of living the spouse had become accustomed to during the course of the marriage. This is also called maintaining the status quo. The financial obligations that a supported spouse walks away with need to be met, regardless of their earning power.

Spousal support accounts for this in a way by ensuring the basic financial responsibilities the spouse has to meet are met. This isn’t to say excessive spending habits during the marriage have to be maintained or that a spouse is entitled to every luxury they enjoyed during the marriage.

Spending habits don’t equate wholly for standard of living. It is to say that if a spouse lived in a four-bedroom home with three kids, it would be unreasonable to ask them to move into a two-bedroom apartment and make due. One of the important things to keep in mind when considering what the standard of living or status quo should be upheld by the spousal support award is that if there are children involved, changes to their standard of living can negatively affect them. If one parent enjoys a better standard of living post-divorce, the child may unintentionally favor spending time with that parent to enjoy more luxuries.

The standard of living component of determining spousal support is important because it attempts to keep post-divorce changes to a minimum and this is considered what is best for families moving on and to keep both home environments for the child similar in quality and comfort. Remember the judge will still have to approve the spousal support amount and if your proposed budget does not seem reasonable, he or she may make changes to the amount requested. Contact an experienced family law attorney if you need help formulating an appropriate spousal support amount.

If you have questions about receiving or being ordered to pay spousal support and are in the Los Angeles, Pacific Palisades or Beverley Hills area, family law attorney Mark H. Karney can provide expert and efficient legal counsel.

As a Certified Family Law Specialist, Los Angeles family law attorney Mark H. Karney can work with you to achieve a spousal support order that maintains the status quo. Call our Los Angeles office today at 310-564-5710 or email us at intake@cfli.com to schedule a free consultation.