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Defining ‘marital lifestyle’ during a divorce

Apr 29, 2021 | Divorce

Your marital lifestyle will be a critical factor in addressing divorce-related matters like spousal support and property division. But while many people may be familiar with the term “marital lifestyle,” they may not understand what it actually entails.

If you are divorcing, you should know what assessing your marital standard of living can look like.

Objective elements

Perhaps the most straightforward way to look at your marital lifestyle is through your bills and a lifestyle analysis. These objective elements can say a lot about how parties lived and what they need to maintain that lifestyle after a divorce. 

Some of these components include:

  • Your mortgage(s)
  • Average credit card bills
  • Utility payments
  • Average spending on groceries and dining out
  • Car payments
  • Investments
  • Average spending on shopping
  • Travel expenses
  • Membership fees and types (country clubs, golf clubs, etc.)

Having receipts, bills and other documentation showing these financial components of your marriage will be crucial in painting the picture of your marital lifestyle.

Other elements to consider

This documentation shows the black-and-white nature of your marital expenses, but there are other factors that may be less obvious, though just as important. For instance, the following details can add context that shapes what a fair settlement will look like:

  • How often you buy new vehicles, and what types of vehicles they are
  • The means you use for traveling, whether that is a private plane or an RV
  • Individual spending habits
  • Where parties shop for clothing

These and similar details can help parties outside the marriage better understand what is needed to maintain that standard of living.

The importance of an accurate analysis

In Texas, two primary avenues for maintaining the marital lifestyle after divorce include spousal support and property division.

Spousal support can be awarded and adjusted to align with the established standard of living. Those with a higher standard of living may receive higher payments; those with more modest living situations would generally receive less, or there may be no need to award spousal support.

Property division settlements can be adjusted so that a dependent spouse receives more money instead of property, making it easier to maintain the status quo after divorce.

Considering the myriad ways your marital lifestyle can affect your divorce, it will be crucial to work with your attorney to paint a complete and accurate picture.