What is Spousal Maintenance?
Spousal Maintenance, also known as alimony or spousal support, is money paid for support of a spouse. Spousal Maintenance can be agreed on between the parties or ordered by the Court in a divorce or legal separation if a spouse proves the funds are necessary to meet his/her monetary obligations. Not every divorce or legal separation involves spousal maintenance.
Eligibility for Spousal Maintenance
If you want the court to consider whether spousal maintenance is appropriate in your case, you need to ask for spousal maintenance in the Petition for Dissolution if you are the Petitioner, or in the Response if you are the Respondent. You can also ask for spousal maintenance in a Petition for Legal Separation.
Generally, spousal maintenance will be paid by one spouse to another for a specific period of time. Spousal maintenance ordinarily ends when the spouse who receives the support remarries, dies, or when the amount of time for which it is ordered or agreed upon has ended.
How is Spousal Maintenance Awarded?
The court will consider the following factors when determining the amount and time period of the spousal maintenance award:
- 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 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 that spouse is able to convert family health insurance to employee health insurance after the marriage is dissolved; and
- 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.
Arizona is a “no-fault divorce” state, meaning the courts will not consider marital misconduct when awarding spousal maintenance.
It is possible that spousal maintenance may be deductible by the paying spouse and may have to be included as income by the receiving spouse. If you have questions about the tax consequences of a spousal maintenance order you are seeking, you should consult a qualified tax attorney or accountant.