Does your happiness have a price tag? It depends on how you define “happy,” says USA Today. Princeton economists recently analyzed the results of a Gallup poll that surveyed 450,000 Americans about their “happiness.” They measured it in two ways: their emotional well-being, as reflected in how much laughter, joy and relaxation they experienced in their day-to-day lives; and their overall life satisfaction, as reflected in how they felt about their jobs, homes, families and statuses. Not surprisingly, the economists found that concerns about money interfered with contentment; both types of happiness rose with income.
Interestingly, they also found that emotional well-being peaked at an annual income of about $75,000 – the point at which most people felt they had enough money to purchase their basic needs. As income levels rose beyond that point, people reported a higher level of over-all life satisfaction, but also a higher level of general concern. For example, going from a job that pays $75,000 to, say, $200,000 created what researchers termed “negative effects” – more responsibility, more pressure to perform and more stress. Thus, in a larger sense, the study found that money does not just buy happiness; money buys more worry, anxiety, and aggravation.
Money may buy you happiness in Virginia divorce. Money concerns permeate every divorce in Northern Virginia and families at all income levels shutter at the thought of budgeting their family’s monthly income for not one household, but for two. An award of spousal support can help ease that transition, but it is unrealistic to believe such an award will allow you to carry on financially as if nothing has changed. In Virginia, spouses entitled to support have the right to be maintained in the manner to which they were accustomed during the marriage, but their needs must be balanced against the other spouse’s financial ability to pay. The balance between “life style” and “financial ability” is difficult to strike. This is particularly true for many Northern Virginia families who earn six-figure incomes, but enjoy six-figure-plus lifestyles. Because Virginia’s spousal support statute requires a court to consider no less than 12 separate factors, spousal support awards are often widely divergent. This makes spousal support particularly well-suited for negotiation and, when necessary, zealous advocacy. If you have questions about spousal support, please feel free to drop me a line.
Professor of Political Science James H. Fowler of the University of California, San Diego, recently conducted a study of whether friends and family influence the likelihood of divorce. His study of more than 5,000 individuals concluded that family and friends almost certainly have a significant impact.
For example, in his sampling those individuals who maintained friendships with divorced persons were themselves 147% more likely to become divorced whereas individuals who maintained friendships with happily married couples were less likely on average to become divorced. Similarly, if an individual’s brother or sister gets divorced, that individual’s likelihood of also getting divorced climbed by 22%. Professor Fowler likened divorce to a virus: “[y]ou get a virus and you’re more likely to spread the symptoms to someone else. This is not just true for a virus. This is true for a lot of social behaviors.”
Surely there are significant problems of causation with such studies. After all, how does one link something as nebulous as the general behavior of others and its impact (if any) on your behavior with the complex decision-making processes inherent in considering divorce, much less conclude that one has a causal effect on the other? Statistical analysis likely isn’t necessary to reasonably conclude that the behavior of those with whom you associate will have an impact on your own. The manner and degree to which their behavior informs yours, however, is entirely up to you. There are as many lessons to be learned about marriage from successfully married couples as there are from miserably married couples.
My experience and background reflect the hallmarks of success one must demand of a lawyer in Northern Virginia's legal landscape. As a native of this area, I have here focused my practice on providing sound and balanced representation to clients navigating the difficult legal waters of family law, including contested divorce, custody, visitation, spousal and child support, and equitable distribution. More >>>
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Thank you for taking the time to read this blog. I hope you find the information here as enjoyable to read as I find to write. Please note that reading this blog does not create a legal relationship between you and Jason A. Weis, Esquire or any other attorney associated with familylawva.com. Moreover, all postings on this blog are merely attorneys' commentary on the state of family law in the Commonwealth of Virginia. THE POSTINGS ARE NOT LEGAL ADVICE – if you have a legal issue or question, I strongly encourage you to contact a lawyer. I would be pleased to refer you to someone if I am able.