In any divorce in which alimony is considered, a standard of living which took place during the marriage must be examined and determined. So, what exactly defines a standard of living?
First, a court will look at marital finances. A judge will seek out the answers to several questions: Who worked? Who did not work? What were the respective incomes of both parties? Did one party help the other to make money? Who paid all or most of the bills? What qualifications does each party have to obtain work that will support a certain lifestyle?
All of these answers matter in a determination of alimony, or spousal support. Further, if a couple has children, those children should rightfully expect to live the same lifestyle they lived while their parents were not divorced, within reason. For example, although children cannot, within reason, expect to always live in a mansion, they should be able to reasonably expect to live in a clean, comfortable home that will disrupt their lives as little as possible. For this expectation alone, a party's income earning potential, as well as future obligation, are a large basis for the award of alimony.
The main purpose of alimony is to allow both divorcing parties and their children to move forward in their lives with the reasonable expectation of maintaining status quo. Many times, alimony is awarded for only a certain period of time after a divorce. It gives the time and opportunity to create the best possible plan of action in moving forward for all parties involved.