Am I entitled to continue the lifestyle to which I have become accustomed if I divorce?

The end of a marriage often leads to a lot of financial worry for those involved. One factor that many are concerned about is will they be able to continue to afford the lifestyle that they had with their spouse during the marriage. Here, McAlister Family Law Partner, Fiona Wood, looks at what the judges will consider when dealing with the financial aspects of a divorce.

When a financial settlement is made in divorce proceedings the judge will have to look at dividing the capital assets and pension assets in a way that meets both spouse’s capital needs (this is usually housing needs, paying debts and funding retirement – if there are reasonable pension provisions). Once the Judge decides what capital and pension assets the spouses will have, they can then consider if one spouse needs spousal maintenance from the other, or a capital sum in lieu of spousal maintenance, to assist them to meet their needs.

A judge has to consider the lifestyle that the couple enjoyed during their marriage, when considering what a fair settlement is. However, if the couple’s assets and incomes are modest, inevitably both their lifestyles will be negatively impacted by them divorcing. The greater the couple’s assets and income the more likely they will receive a financial settlement that allows them to continue the lifestyle that they had during the marriage.

When dealing with the financial aspects of divorce it is usual for both spouses to state how much they need to buy a house, if they are not saying that they want to stay living in the family home. Where there is less capital, both of the couple may have to downsize as part of their divorce settlement. If there are more assets one may be able to keep the family home and the other purchase another property of a similar value. The value of a house that is suitable for each spouse depends upon the couple’s assets and can be a point of dispute between the couple.

Divorcing spouses also need to state their income needs. Not only does this include essential expenditure such as mortgage payments, food and utility bills, it can also include less essential expenditure such as holidays, entertainment, gardeners etc. Those with significant wealth have huge schedules of income needs, including staff, private jets and the funding of several properties. If the couple cannot agree their settlement and a judge has to adjudicate on the issue, it is likely that they will be asked about their stated income needs and to justify them. To justify them they need to show that this is the level that you and your spouse spent at during the marriage. It is the lifestyle that you had.

Judges are critical of those spouses whose income needs are more of a wish list than a reflection of the lifestyle enjoyed during the marriage. For example if you and your spouse only had one holiday a year in Europe, if you are now saying that you need sufficient money from your spouse to fund several holidays a year, including long haul destinations, a judge is unlikely to say that this is reasonable.

You are not automatically entitled to continue the lifestyle to which you have become accustomed if you divorce, but the lifestyle that you enjoyed as a couple is relevant, and if there is sufficient capital and income it is likely to be maintained,

If you are worried about your financial future if you divorce, you should take advice from an expert family lawyer.

If you or someone you know is affected by the issues raised in this blog post, we can provide you with expert legal advice. For more information, please get in touch with our specialist team at


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