In any divorce proceeding when one party asks for spousal maintenance, the essence of the claim is that the income is not sufficient to meet that spouses monthly living expenses. For example, the spouse requesting spousal maintenance may be earning $3,000 per month, but the expenses are $5,000 per month. In these instances, both lawyers for the spouses and by extension the neutral and the Judge (if the case goes to Trial), will look to monthly expenses under the lens of standard of living established during the marriage.
The law addressing spousal maintenance refers to the standard of living established during the marriage at least three times. In order to decipher what may or may not qualify as an appropriate expense, an analysis of the spending, which occurred during the marriage and before physical separation of the parties is critical. For example, if the expenditures during the marriage reveal that the family would take two vacations every calendar year, it would be reasonable for both spouses to include that expense in their budgets.
On the other hand, an expense after separation of the parties and/or during the divorce proceeding cannot be justified if this expense was not present during the entirety of the marriage. Of course, all situations are different, and some brand new expenses may be completely justifiable. For example, the person seeking spousal maintenance could have been diagnosed with a recent medical condition, which requires the necessity of therapeutic massage. Such an expense would be likely justifiable as it is medically needed.
If your case involves a difference of opinion with your spouse on what are reasonable monthly expenses, it is prudent to work with an attorney and/or a financial expert to understand how the information may be presented to either a neutral and/or a Judge.
If you have any questions regarding the standard of living in Minnesota spousal maintenance cases, please call me today at 651-647-0087 or reach out via our online contact form to set up your free consultation.