A Simple Guide to Arizona’s Spousal Support Laws
Spousal maintenance, often referred to as alimony or spousal support, is a two-part process. In Arizona, spousal maintenance laws provide that alimony is not of necessity in every dissolution case. First, the court must determine if a spouse qualifies for spousal maintenance. Second, the court must determine the amount and duration of the award. In Arizona the parameters for which the questions “how much” and “how long” apply are subject to interpretation, and judges frequently have differing views relating to spousal maintenance. Thus, it is imperative for you to work with an attorney who is well versed in family law, and Arizona’s statutes surrounding spousal maintenance, specifically A.R.S. §25-319.
We’d like to provide you with a short guide to Arizona’s Spousal Maintenance processes. First and foremost, the court must determine (1) if you qualify for spousal support, and if so, (2) the amount and duration for which you qualify.
So, who qualifies for spousal support?
A spouse qualifies for an award of spousal maintenance after a divorce, if the spouse seeking spousal maintenance:
- Lacks sufficient property to provide for his/her own reasonable needs,
- Is unable to be self sufficient through appropriate employment, or is the custodian of a child whose age or condition prevents the spouse from working, or lacks the ability to be self sufficient in the labor market;
- Has made significant financial, or other contribution(s), to the education, training, vocational skills, career or earning ability of the other spouse;
- The marriage was for a long duration, such that the spouse is of an age that may prevent him/her from the possibility of gaining employment adequate to be self sufficient.
- Has significantly reduced their income or career opportunities for the benefit of the other spouse;
Any of the above factors may qualify a spouse for an award of spousal maintenance. However, even if a judge does find that you qualify for spousal maintenance, the amount and duration limited is based upon a number of other factors, as outlined below.
If I qualify, how is the amount and duration of support determined?
In Arizona, the courts will consider the following factors when determining the amount and duration of support awarded:
- 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 other spouse to pay spousal maintenance while meeting his/her own needs;
- The comparative financial resources of the spouses, including their comparative earning abilities in the labor market;
- The extent to which the spouse seeking maintenance contributed to the earning ability of the other spouse;
- The extent to which the spouse seeking maintenance reduced their income of career opportunities for the benefit of the other spouse;
- The ability of both spouses to contribute to the future educational expenses of the mutual children after the divorce;
- The financial resources of the spouse seeking maintenance;
- The time needed for the spouse seeking maintenance to acquire the education and training needed to find suitable employment;
- Excessive or abnormal expenditures destruction, concealment or fraudulent disposition of community, joint tenancy and other property held in common;
- The cost of health insurance for the spouse seeking spousal maintenance;
- Actual damages resulting from the criminal acts of one spouse on the other.
As you can see, most of the aforementioned factors deal with financial resources of the spouses and the ability of each spouse to provide for their own needs after the divorce.
Spousal maintenance is an important topic for both parties to understand. It is an important issue for the spouse receiving the money, because he/she is likely relying on this income to support themselves. On the same note, it is also an important issue for the spouse paying the support, as it impacts his/her ability to pay for their own expenses. Nonetheless, it is of increasing significance to have an attorney who is able to smoothly guide you through this process, and has the knowledge needed to protect what is most important to you.
Call us now at (602) 687-6248 to discuss the specifics of your case with an experienced attorney.