Spousal Support & Keeping Up Appearances

One of the biggest litigation issues that people need to overcome in divorce is spousal support. The "syndrome of income deficiency" is a well-known fact within the legal community, because it applies to all cases of spousal support when the person who pays the support suddenly loses their income. California Law requires the courts to base their spousal support on the standard of living that the spouse established during the time of marriage (CA Family Code Section 4330(a)).


What is that marital standard of living, and how can it be determined? Some examples of determining that standard include:


1) Family vacation home(s)
2) Car(s)
3) Rental property
4) Schools attended by the children
5) Retirement pensions and stock plans
6) Stocks and bonds
7) Social activities
8) Personal properties
9) Collections
10) Donations and contributions
11) Debts and loans, and many more....


What happens in the case when only one of the spouses pays all the bills and rent while the other spouse takes the money and invests them in various banks in the U.S. or abroad? In cases like that, you need to look to case law such as In Re Marriage of Castle. The reasonable return of liquidated assets is taken into consideration by the courts. Meaning, that if you have money in the bank, then these amounts must have a reasonable return and based on that, the courts can impute income so that the syndrome of income deficiency does not pay out for the spouse that pretends to be indigent or without income.


There are many cases in which one of the spouses pretends to be sick or poor, yet their standard of living is luxurious and high-end; the lawyer must make the court aware of the immorality of the opposing party in order to protect the interest of their client. In situations like this, you'll often wonder where the knowledge of the law stops and where the research begins.