For many people, divorce isn’t about just losing a spouse (whom they may be more than happy to part with) but losing their lifestyle. While divorce can affect everyone financially, it’s often hardest on the lesser-earning spouse, who is still more often than not the wife.
Alimony, or spousal support, is intended to help remedy the discrepancy in earning power – at least until the payee can get the training or experience they need to support themselves, if possible. In some cases, however, one spouse’s individual wealth and/or income is so great that their spouse can never hope to get anywhere close to the standard of living they’ve enjoyed – possibly for decades – on their own.
If a couple can’t agree on spousal support, a judge will need to decide how much one will be ordered to pay the other and for how long. Do you have a right to ask the court to consider that standard of living in determining how much alimony you receive? Let’s look at Utah law.
What does Utah law say?
Under state law, the couple’s “standard of living at the time of separation” is one consideration. The judge may seek to order enough support to provide an equitable standard of living for the spouses after divorce.
The length of the marriage is also a primary consideration. A court “may not order alimony for a period longer than the length of the marriage, unless there are special reasons for doing so….”
What other factors can be considered?
The court will also consider the payee spouse’s ability to return to the workforce. An older spouse or one in poor health may not reasonably be able to do so. A spouse who has been a full-time parent and still has children to raise may also not be expected to become self-supporting any time soon.
A payee spouse can also ask the court to factor in their contribution to their spouse’s success. Maybe they helped their spouse build their company without any formal title, position or compensation, for example. Perhaps they gave up their career to hold down the fort at home while their spouse devoted countless hours to their work or traveled the world on business.
If you’re ending a long-term marriage, you have the right to ask for enough spousal support to maintain your marital standard of living. Building a solid case for this requires experienced legal guidance.