The Concept of ''Marital Standard of Living'' in North Carolina

If you are going through a high net worth divorce in North Carolina, you and your spouse may have become accustomed to a high standard of living. Wealthy spouses obviously have the funds to pursue many luxuries and enjoyable pastimes of which many of us can only dream. While you might not have given this a second thought during your marriage, it is important to understand how this standard of living can impact your divorce.

In North Carolina divorces, this general concept is referred to as “marital standard of living.” But how does this actually affect your divorce? How might it change matters related to alimony, child support, child custody, and more? Regardless of whether you are the “dependent” spouse or not, it is important to understand how factors like these can impact your divorce.

Of course, the best way to clarify concepts such as these is to ask a qualified divorce attorney. Team up with an experienced divorce attorney in Charlotte, and you can learn how your marital standard of living may impact your divorce. Our family law attorneys in Mecklenburg County can not only help explain these matters, but we can also help you actively pursue a positive legal outcome.

The Definition of Marital Standard of Living

In North Carolina, the definition of “marital standard of living” is somewhat vague and open-ended. That being said, this term mostly refers to the social and economic factors that surrounded the marriage. In most cases, only the last few years of the marriage are considered when judges assess your marital standard of living. While financial factors are important, marital standard of living is mostly based on the lifestyle experienced by both spouses.

What are Some of the Factors that Surround Marital Standard of Living?

A wide range of factors may be taken into account when determining marital standard of living. These include:

  • The size of your family home
  • Whether you lived in an affluent neighborhood
  • How many times per week you dined at restaurants
  • The types of restaurants you visited
  • Memberships to clubs, gyms, and other institutions
  • How often you went on vacation
  • How expensive or luxurious your vacations were
  • What kinds of hobbies you indulged in
  • Your expenditures on various forms of entertainment
  • Shopping patterns, including where you shopped and how much you spent

If you are the dependent spouse, you will need to present evidence that these factors existed during your divorce. If you earned significantly more than your spouse and made this lifestyle possible, then you need to be aware of these factors as you approach your divorce.

Marital Standard of Living and Alimony

In the context of a high net worth divorce, the purpose of alimony is to ensure that a dependent spouse can continue to experience the standard of living to which they have grown accustomed. This means that alimony will probably increase depending on the marital standard of living. The only exception is if the spouses were clearly living beyond their means in an unsustainable manner, and they did not actually have the necessary funds to maintain this luxurious lifestyle.

How Does Marital Standard of Living Affect Children?

Your marital standard of living can affect more than just your alimony payments. When determining child support and child custody, courts may also consider what the child has become accustomed to during the marriage. In North Carolina, child support is handled somewhat differently when the spouses’ combined income is higher than $300,000 per year. In this case, judges consider the specific factors of the child’s life during the marriage, including many of the factors listed above. In addition, there are some unique factors involved:

  • Whether the child attended a private school
  • Whether the child received private tutoring
  • Whether the child received music lessons
  • Whether the child was involved in expensive pastimes, like horseback riding
  • Whether the child attended summer camps

It is worth pointing out that if one spouse is better-equipped to maintain a child’s high standard of living, they may stand a better chance of retaining primary custody. This is especially true if one spouse ends the marriage with sole ownership of the family home. Judges sometimes make sure that children are not forced to leave home, attend new schools, and depart from affluent neighborhoods.

Enlist the Help of a Qualified Attorney Today

If you are dealing with an ending marriage in Charlotte, you probably want to move on with your life in the quickest, easiest way possible. Assessing your marital standard of living is just one step on the road to a positive legal outcome. If you have been looking for a qualified, experienced family law attorney in Mecklenburg County, connect with Arnold & Smith, PLLC at your earliest convenience. We have considerable experience with high net worth divorces, and we can help you move on with your life. Contact us now at 704-370-2828.