It would be easy to rack up a list of “needs” when asking for spousal maintenance. But the reality is that your spousal maintenance request must be reasonable and based upon your lifestyle requirements.
Here is how the court looks at your standard of living in the spousal maintenance analysis:
Evaluating Standard Of Living
Initially, the court will measure your reasonable needs with “reference” to the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage. Depending on the income available to pay spousal maintenance, this may mean duplicating this standard, or it may mean something less.
To understand the pre-divorce standard of living and present it as evidence to the court, you will need to review in detail the most recent historical expenditures of the family when it was intact. Then, you will need to define–as best you can–which of those expenditures benefitted you directly and are related to your post-divorce needs.
For example, if you will be awarded the marital residence post-divorce, the expenses associated with the all marital residence should be allocated to you. On the other hand, you will have to estimate the amount of food or dining out costs that were related to you personally and not to other members of the household.
You will also need to estimate expenses that may not occur every year. As an example, if you bought a new car with cash every four years, or made major updates to your home every two years, you should average those costs into a monthly expense.
Factoring in Other Expenses
There may also be expenses that you will have after your divorce that you did not have during the marriage, which should be included in your “going-forward” budget. These expenses may include health insurance (if you were previously on a group plan through your spouse’s employer) or long-term care insurance.
When determining your post-divorce expenses, you need to consider that your spouse will not necessarily have to meet your every expense. You should be aware that your own income and the income generated by assets that you are awarded will also be considered by the court.
Although compiling this information may seem like an arduous task, there are certified divorce financial analysts who can assist you. If appropriate, they may also testify at your divorce trial.
Contact us at Hallier Lawrence to learn more about spousal maintenance.