The marital standard of living (often referred to as MSOL) is essentially a measure of the lifestyle enjoyed by a couple during marriage. It is most often used during a divorce case to help determine how much support one party should pay the other.
Several things go into this evaluation.
Marital Standard of Living Assessment: Income
As you can imagine, the total income of the two parties is one of the most important factors. The lifestyle of a family with an annual income of $50,000 per year will be very different from one that makes $300,000 per year.
That said, one thing to keep in mind is it’s rare for both parties to be able to enjoy the same standard of living once separated. That’s largely because living expenses are now doubled. Whether you have a $200,000 house or a $500,000, it’s always easier to just pay for one home than two.
Another thing to consider is increases in income. Let’s say the standard of living used to be a lifestyle based on $50,000 a year. If the higher-paid party (who is the one giving support to the other) suddenly gets a huge promotion and starts making $125,000 a year, they won’t necessarily need to increase their support by a proportional amount, ie. 2.5x as much. However, the courts might make them increase support to help the other party reach that same lifestyle enjoyed at the $50,000 a year point.
Marital Standards of Living Assessment: Savings and Retirement
Income isn’t the only factor that comes into play. The amount of money regularly contributed to things such as savings and retirement can also come into play.
For example, let’s say after taxes a family brings home $80,000. They are very frugal and like to save money, so they put away $50,000.
In that case, they’re essentially living on just $30,000 a year.
This will be considered during the MSOL assessment. It will be noted that the lifestyle didn’t include a lot of eating at restaurants, going on lavish vacations, owning expensive cars, etc. In this case, the amount of support necessary may be lower, since the lifestyle didn’t require as much cash.
MSOL Assessment: Both Spouses Matter
Sometimes it seems like the party giving support to the other is the “loser.” They’re going broke just trying to pay the support deemed necessary so the lower-paid party can enjoy the same lifestyle they used to have.
This isn’t how it’s meant to be. Assuming one didn’t get a major increase in income, there shouldn’t be a huge disparity between their lifestyles. If one is able to comfortably live similar to how they used to and the other is almost bankrupt, there’s an imbalance that needs to be remedied.
A material standard of living assessment isn’t a black-and-white thing that can be figured out in a day or two. It takes a lot of digging to understand how the family lived, and what kind of support is necessary to help both parties still be able to live as close to that previous lifestyle as possible. For more personalized guidance, click here to contact Von Esch Law today.
Courtesy of Cuselleration