Support me in the lifestyle to which I’ve become accustomed! (Jeffrey D. Tarkington)

Posted on Mar 31, 2009 by Hofheimer Family Law

Does he REALLY have to support you in the "manner to which you've become accustomed?" In Virginia, the Courts are instructed to consider 12 specific (and one catch-all) factors in awarding spousal support, including "The standard of living established during the marriage." The other factors are 1. the needs, obligations and financial resources of both parties, 2. standard of living, 3. duration of the marriage, 4. age, physical and mental health of the parties, including any special needs, 5. whether age, physical or mental health of a child of the parties requires that one parent not work outside the home, 6. each party's contributions, monetary and non-monetary, to the well being of the family, 7. the property interests of the parties, 8. the distribution of marital assets and debts in the divorce, 9. the earning capacity of the parties & the jobs available in the community, 10. opportunity, time and costs for a party to obtain new skills to earn more, 11. decisions made during marriage regarding employment, parenting, education etc., and the effects of same on present and future earning ability, and 12. whether either party has contributed to the education, training, career or profession of the other.

Fault (yours) may be an absolute bar to spousal support, or (his) an enhancement factor. In my practice, the "standard of living" factor only comes into play when there is surplus income to the payor spouse, and then only for a long term (20+ yrs) marriage.

Absent some special circumstance, do not count on spousal support as your primary income source!