The Marital Standard of Living

Author(s)

Nina Jafari

Details

Faculty editor: Paul Horton
Publication: Contemporary Legal Issues
Volume: 22
Issue:
Start Page: 133
Month: December
Year: 2015
Type: Article

Abstract

Presumably California spouses who want a divorce also want to continue to enjoy the standard of living they achieved during marriage. At least that is so when the alimony award is a contested issue in their divorce. The California Family Code enjoins the divorce court to award “just and reasonable” alimony “based on the standard of living established during marriage, taking into consideration the circumstances.” California Family Code § 4330(a). Among the “circumstances” listed by the Legislature, two attend specifically to marital standard of living: “the extent to which the earning capacity of each party is sufficient to maintain the standard of living established during the marriage,” Family Code § 4320(a); and “the needs of each party based on the standard of living established during the marriage,” Family Code § 4320(d). A third “circumstance,” the supporting spouse’s ability to pay, requires analysis of his standard of living—see Family Code § 4320(c)—which, for original permanent-alimony awards, will often involve determination of the marital standard of living.