Alimony or Spousal Maintenance
Spousal Support in Arizona
Spousal Maintenance, which is also known as alimony or spousal support, is an order requiring one spouse to make maintenance payments to the other spouse to support him or her financially. In general, the spouse that earns a higher income pays money to the spouse that earns a lower income for a period of time. Generally, spousal maintenance payments are offered temporarily, as a way to allow an individual to transition back to the work force.
Many times, a spouse will sacrifice a significant amount of time, money and effort supporting the other spouse while they get their education and build a career. Often a spouse will sacrifice their own career ambitions to stay home and raise the children, manage the house, and support their spouses’s career.
How is Spousal Maintenance Determined?
Not every case in Arizona will result in an Alimony award and the Arizona family judges have wide discretion when it comes to awarding spousal support. A spouse must first qualify for spousal maintenance depending on several different factors under Arizona law. The family court judge must consider the following factors found in A.R.S. § 25-319(A) to see if a spouse qualifies:
- Lacks sufficient property, including property apportioned to the spouse, to provide for that spouse’s reasonable needs.
- Is unable to be self-sufficient through appropriate employment or is the custodian of a child whose age or condition is such that the custodian should not be required to seek employment outside the home or lacks earning ability in the labor market adequate to be self-sufficient.
- Contributed to the educational opportunities of the other spouse.
- Had a marriage of long duration and is of an age that may preclude the possibility of gaining employment adequate to be self-sufficient.
If a spouse qualifies to receive spousal maintenance, the family law judge must then determine the appropriate amount and duration of the spousal support award. There is no set formula that a judge must follow, instead the judge is tasked with considering the individual circumstances of each spouse and apply the factors contained in A.R.S. § 25-319(B), which are the following:
- The standard of living established during the marriage.
- The duration of the marriage.
- The age, employment history, earning ability and physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance.
- The ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to meet that spouse’s needs while meeting those of the spouse seeking maintenance.
- The comparative financial resources of the spouses, including their comparative earning abilities in the labor market.
- The contribution of the spouse seeking maintenance to the earning ability of the other spouse.
- The extent to which the spouse seeking maintenance has reduced that spouse’s income or career opportunities for the benefit of the other spouse.
- The ability of both parties after the dissolution to contribute to the future educational costs of their mutual children.
- The financial resources of the party seeking maintenance, including marital property apportioned to that spouse, and that spouse’s ability to meet that spouse’s own needs independently.
- The time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment and whether such education or training is readily available.
- Excessive or abnormal expenditures, destruction, concealment or fraudulent disposition of community, joint tenancy and other property held in common.
- The cost for the spouse who is seeking maintenance to obtain health insurance and the reduction in the cost of health insurance for the spouse from whom maintenance is sought if the spouse from whom maintenance is sought is able to convert family health insurance to employee health insurance after the marriage is dissolved.
- All actual damages and judgments from conduct that results in criminal conviction of either spouse in which the other spouse or child was the victim.
An Alimony Lawyer Can Help
Since there are so many factors in determining the amount and length of spousal support, it is imperative that you hire a knowledgeable family law attorney to ensure that a fair amount of spousal maintenance is ordered. To speak with an experienced spousal maintenance attorney in Arizona, call the Law Office of Austin White at (480) 788-0633 or fill out our online form here to book your free consultation.