Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Feb 8, 2020

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In a divorce and custody case where child support is being calculated, standard of living will factor into the calculation. Standard of living refers to the type of lifestyle that the child will live, based on income and money available. The general legal understanding is that the child is legally entitled to live at the same standard of living as the parents. 

Understanding the Allocation of Standard of Living

Because of the rules regarding the allocation of standard of living, if one of the parents is wealthy, even if he or she is not the custodial parent, the child support payments will increase because of it. This causes a problem for some people, who see it as one parent paying to increase standard of living for not just the child, but for the ex’s household too. This is technically true. However, since that household also belongs to the child and his or her best interests come first, this is an accepted condition of the rule.

How is Standard of Living Calculated?

Standard of living is not necessarily calculated on simply the bare necessities. As stated above, a wealthy person is considered to “need” more in order to maintain that standard, which explains why his or her child support payments will increase; the child, by extension, also needs more in order to meet the same lifestyle value.

The standard of living is thus calculated by looking at how much each parent makes, and how each parent lives. No parent should be expected to pay more than is comfortable based on his income, and at the same time those with a larger income will be expected to pay more so their child can enjoy the benefits of that parent’s financial success. 

Getting Help

To understand how child support is determined, it is imperative to consult with a lawyer who can provide you with details on the support formulas in your state.