When a couple decides to divorce, both spouses are faced with the reality of turning a single household into two households. The financial ramifications of this kind of transition are usually significant enough to dramatically impact the standard of living each spouse is accustomed to. Although the financial strain of divorce is a practical challenge that many individuals rebound from fairly quickly, other individuals are impacted by divorce-related financial challenges for years after their divorce decrees have been finalized. As a result, it can be confusing when a Tampa, FL top rated divorce attorney tells a divorcing couple that their standard of living may influence any spousal support obligations that may either be agreed upon by both spouses or ordered by a judge in the event of an impasse. How can a couple’s standard of living influence spousal support obligations when the very act of divorcing tends to dramatically alter the financial situation of each spouse individually? These are excellent questions. Fortunately, an experienced Tampa, FL divorce attorney with The McKinney Law Group can provide clarity. Couples Living Above or Below Their Means A couple’s standard of living most often impacts spousal support obligations when the spouses in question have been living either significantly above or significantly below their means. If a couple has been using a great deal of debt in order to finance their way of life, a court is not likely to order a spouse to finance the other spouse’s relatively extravagant lifestyle while each of them drowns in marital debt. On the flip side, if a couple has been saving diligently and maintaining a frugal lifestyle, a court is unlikely to reject a significant spousal support award request from one spouse simply because the other argues that the receiving spouse is unaccustomed to living with immediate access to significant financial resources. Property Division Generally It is also worth remembering that property acquired during the course of a marriage is almost always treated by the court as marital property. Marital property is most often subject to a standard of equitable division. Practically speaking, this means that the value of any real estate, physical possessions, income and assets not subject to some kind of legal exception must be divided equally between spouses during the divorce process. Because it is the value of marital property as a whole (as opposed to the value of individual assets) that matters to the court, couples may work with a Tampa, FL top rated divorce attorney to divide their marital property in any number of ways. For example, one spouse may choose to retain ownership of the family residence while the other retains possession of the majority of the couple’s retirement savings. Similarly, if one spouse wishes to take a significant amount of the couple’s property and pay spousal support over time, that is an arrangement that may or may not work for a given couple. But when such an arrangement is either struck or ordered, it must be fair and reasonable within the equitable division equation. If one spouse proposes to take the majority of the couple’s property in exchange for a paltry amount of spousal support (which leaves the receiving spouse little hope of ever recovering a decent standard of living) this arrangement will likely be rejected by the court. Divorce Process Guidance Is Available If you have questions about the divorce process generally or spousal support specifically, please consider reaching out to a Tampa, Florida top rated divorce attorney. There is no single “formula” that applies in every situation involving property distribution during divorce. Unique circumstances matter in family law. As a result, it is generally a good idea to speak with a Tampa, FL top rated divorce lawyer as early in the divorce process as possible, so that your unique circumstances may be fully explored and a strong yet fair legal strategy may be crafted accordingly.