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Clear marital living standards set California alimony limits

California laws take a whole – marital assets and liabilities – and divide them in two equal halves. Community property laws ensure each spouse in a divorce walks away with 50 percent of the marital pie. At the same time, spousal support is awarded to help a former spouse maintain a living standard similar to the one he or she had while married.

Ideally, a divorce settlement provides San Diego spouses with sufficient assets to start over separately. However, many ex-spouses find half the marital property isn't enough to support a whole new lifestyle, much less one that mimics a recently-vacated marital lifestyle. Independence is expensive when you add up costs of moving and buying or renting and furnishing a new home, plus leftover bills from the two-income days.

Alimony is considered when one former partner has a financial need and the other has the ability to fill the need. This often happens when there is a significant disparity between the spouses' earnings or capacities to earn. Courts also factor in the length of a marriage, the spouses' ages and health conditions and marital sacrifices, like forsaking a career to raise children or financially supporting a spouse's education or profession.

The standard of living provision sets a base for all future support modifications. By ignoring this important element during separation or divorce, spousal support payers can miss an opportunity to set early boundaries. It's easier and less costly to spell out a well-detailed standard of living at the time of a split than recreate the standard during a dispute in the future.

An ill-defined standard of living is an advantage for support recipients, who may request an alimony increase whenever an ex's financial condition improves. A muddy divorce agreement also may prevent the spouse who pays support from obtaining an eventual reduction or termination of support payments. Standard of living details should be clear and indisputable.

Source: The Huffington Post, "The Importance of the Standard of Living" Fred Silberberg, Jul. 15, 2014

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