The Dreaded “A” Word: Alimony

| Alimony / Spousal Maintenance Divorce Legally Speaking | January 21, 2020

“Alimony” in AZ is called “Spousal Maintenance”

One of the most common questions I am asked as a family law (divorce) attorney is about “alimony” – will someone have to pay, how much will they have to pay, will someone receive alimony? Their neighbor “got” thousands in a divorce, why can’t they?

Luckily in Arizona, we don’t have alimony. Well, not entirely true. We don’t call it alimony in Arizona. Family law practitioners, judges and our legislature refer to it as “spousal maintenance.” Perhaps a better title would have been “The Dreaded SM words” but it doesn’t have the same ring.

Why spousal maintenance you might ask? Because the idea is if someone qualifies (and yes, they must qualify initially), it allows the lesser earning spouse time to become self-sufficient. Spousal maintenance provides a vehicle for that to occur.

Qualifying for Spousal Maintenance

There are specific factors that the court must consider when determining if someone qualifies for spousal maintenance. Then if they do, further factors to consider to determine the amount and duration of the award. There is no set formula to calculate or predict spousal maintenance in Arizona. This leads to difficulties in determining what is an appropriate amount because, as I always tell people, if you give ten different judges the same set of facts, you will probably receive ten different rulings.

With that in mind, what are the factors? The court must determine if someone has sufficient assets to be self-sufficient. Or, do they have the ability to be self-sufficient through employment? The court can also determine a person’s qualification if s/he contributed to the other party’s education or if the marriage was of such length that the party may not be able to become employed to a sufficient level to provide for his/her reasonable needs. A person’s age may preclude their ability to achieve self-sufficiency through employment.

13 Qualification Factors

Once the court determines qualification, then the judge has to examine each of the following:

  1. the standard of living during the marriage;
  2. the length of the marriage;
  3. each party’s age, health and employment history;
  4. the ability of the payor spouse to meet his/her own needs while paying spousal maintenance;
  5. comparative earning abilities;
  6. the contributions of the lesser earning spouse to the payor spouse’s earning abilities;
  7. has the lesser earner reduced career opportunities in order to advance the payor spouse’s career;
  8. ability of both parties to contribute to the education costs of their children after dissolution;
  9. financial resources of the lesser earner;
  10. time necessary to obtain adequate employment;
  11. excessive or abnormal expenditures during the marriage;
  12. cost of health insurance for the lesser earning spouse;
  13. actual damages and judgments from conduct resulting from a criminal conviction following child or spousal abuse.

“Reasonable Expenses”

One of the biggest arguments that arise in spousal maintenance cases is what constitutes reasonable expenses for both parties? This varies on a case-by-case basis and generally the parties have differing thoughts as to how the other should be living. Judges also may disagree.

Speak with a Qualified Divorce or Family Law Attorney and other Professionals

Spousal maintenance not only affects financial security, but also child support and has tax implications for both parties, thus parties should also consult with their tax advisor. You should be very cautious if an attorney ever guarantees you a spousal maintenance amount. Because, unlike death and taxes, an amount of spousal maintenance is never certain. If your case involves a request or award of spousal maintenance you should consult with an experienced family law attorney. At Duenas Eden Law, PLC we’d be glad to discuss the facts of your particular case. We are trusted attorneys in Divorce, Child Custody Cases, Child Support, Spousal Support, Same-Sex Legal Issues and other Family Law matters. Serving the Phoenix metro area including Ahawatukee, Laveen, Tempe, Chandler, Mesa and Gilbert. Trust the Family Law Attorneys of Duenas Eden Law, PLC. Call today: (480) 285-1735.

Family Law Attorney in Phoenix / Ahwatukee Dorian Eden
By Dorian L. Eden
Originally published in the October 2013 edition of Ocotillo Living

New Year, New You?

| Divorce Legally Speaking | January 7, 2020

Happy New Year! Have you made your new year’s resolution?

I think I usually hear people listing getting in shape, losing weight or paying debt at the top of their resolutions. But there are other things that should be considered as well. The beginning of the new year presents a great time to review homeowner’s, automobile and life insurance policies. A change in incomes or values of property may warrant a modification of insurances. It is a great time to examine your entire estate plan – wills, trusts, powers of attorney, living wills, etc., and a meeting with your estate planner may be appropriate. If you have a financial planner and/or certified public accountant, you may want to discuss the new year and what you hope to accomplish. It is a good time to schedule a complete physical and manage your mental and physical health. Maybe it’s time to re-evaluate your time management skills or work/life balance.

Some people determine that it is time to make a change to their marriage. Before someone files for a dissolution of marriage, s/he may consider if it is possible to work on the marriage through marriage counseling. A dissolution of marriage case may be long and can be extremely emotionally and financially exhausting. A minimum of sixty (60) days must pass before a married couple can get divorced from the time the petition for dissolution of marriage is filed and served. Most family law practitioners use a rule of thumb of 64 days to make sure that the time limit is met. A case may actually not be resolved for four, six, ten months or a year if there are disputed issues.

Gather Financial Statements

Before a party files for dissolution of marriage and if there is not domestic violence, s/he may want to gather current financial information such as bank statements, credit card statements, pay stubs, tax returns and any other financial information. Knowledge of assets and liabilities is very important for both parties in a dissolution case.

Whatever your goal for the new year, remember there are people who can help you.

I have said this before in these articles, but reach out and seek assistance from professionals. Don’t try to navigate uncharted waters alone. If you need legal or other professional assistance, please call our Office. If we can’t help you, most of the time we will refer you to people who can. Happy New Year! I hope this year is your best ever!

Speak with a Qualified Divorce Attorney in Arizona

The Divorce Layers at Duenas Eden Law, PLC understand you needs in this trying time. We are trusted attorneys in Divorce, Child Custody Cases, Child Support, Spousal Support, Same-Sex Legal Issues and other Family Law matters. Serving the Phoenix metro area including Ahawatukee, Laveen, Tempe, Chandler, Mesa and Gilbert. Trust the Family Law Attorneys of Duenas Eden Law, PLC. Call today: (480) 285-1735.

Family Law Attorney in Phoenix / Ahwatukee Dorian Eden
By Dorian L. Eden
Originally published in the January 2014 edition of Ocotillo Living

I’M MOVING OUT…. What Can I take?

| Divorce Legally Speaking | January 1, 2020

It’s a new year and a time for resolutions

While that may mean losing the inevitable holiday weight gained over the last two months, it may be more serious and involve a decision that a relationship just is not working. If you have decided to end a marriage and separate, you will quickly realize that it’s not as easy as saying, “I’m leaving.” There are couches and televisions to divide. There are household bills that still need to be paid. There may be bank accounts to separate. And who has to pay those credit card bills from the holidays?

Arizona is a Community Property State

Because Arizona is a community property state, assuming the parties are legally married, then generally, each person is entitled to one-half of the accumulated assets during the marriage. There are some exceptions to this rule, but in general, this is the presumption. Typically, if the parties are able to communicate somewhat, they can discuss who will take the couch, the table, etc. But, if that’s not possible or safe, leaving and taking one-half of the furniture can be done. It’s a good idea to take before and after pictures of each item and room, and to create a list of items taken and left. Te same is true for money in bank accounts (although bank statement will suffice in lieu of pictures). If an agreement can’t be reached, then the court is there to decide.

Debts and Bills

Paying debts and bills is a different issue. In a community property state, both parties are obligated to pay ongoing bills and debts, even if the parties are no longer living together. If the parties agree on which each person is going to pay what obligation, then ideally each party would honor that agreement. If there is no consensus, then it may be necessary to seek court involvement for allocation of debt payment. It may be difficult to protect one’s credit during the process, but obtaining a copy of your credit report and monitoring ongoing activity is important. If one person fails to pay debts and other bills and your credit becomes negatively affected, there may be remedies that the court can implement.

No two cases are exactly the same. So, before taking action, you should consult with a family law attorney to discuss the specifics of your particular situation.

Speak with an Experienced Divorce Attorney

We understand that separations and divorce can be difficult. Duenas Eden Law, PLC listens to your needs to resolve your case. We are trusted attorneys in Divorce, Child Custody Cases, Child Support, Spousal Support, Same-Sex Legal Issues and other Family Law matters. Serving the Phoenix metro area including Ahawatukee, Laveen, Tempe, Chandler, Mesa and Gilbert. Trust the Family Law Attorneys of Duenas Eden Law, PLC. Call today: (480) 285-1735.

Family Law Attorney in Phoenix / Ahwatukee Dorian Eden
By Dorian L. Eden
Originally published in the January 2013 edition of Ocotillo Living

I Want to File for Divorce… Now What?

| Divorce Legally Speaking | December 17, 2019

Dissolution of Marriage

In Arizona, proceedings to end a marriage are called a dissolution of marriage. Arizona is a no-fault state, meaning that one person does not need give a reason why the marriage is over, but must simply state that it is irretrievably broken and there is no likelihood of reconciliation.

Most people do not get married without at least some planning and forethought. But a number of people say to their spouse, “I want a divorce,” without knowing what that means other than they will no longer be married.

The case is initiated by filing a petition for dissolution of marriage. But, before ever getting to that point, it is important to have a good idea of your finances, debts and how you envision life after divorce.

Many Things to Consider in Divorce Filings

Dissolving a marriage is a complicated process that involves children’s issues, financial ramifications, tax implications, dividing assets and debts. It may involve someone paying or receiving spousal maintenance. Do you have current copies of all investment and bank account statements? Have you carefully reviewed the last several, or more, months of statements for any suspicious activity? Do you have a current credit report and copies of all credit card statements? Do you know what your house is worth and what you owe on your mortgage? Do you own a business? Where do you intend to live after the dissolution is granted? If you have children, how would you want to divide custody and parenting time? These are all important questions to ask yourself before beginning this process.

Seek a Qualified Attorney

A qualified attorney can assist you with this life-changing event. Knowledge and a frank discussion about possibilities builds a good foundation for the process. Trying to handle everything associated with a divorce on your own, without any legal assistance, can be costly because you may be agreeing to things that you otherwise would not have to or want to. You may give up assets to which you are otherwise entitled or parenting time with your children. Some mistakes can be corrected. With others, there may not be anything that can be done.

If you are considering a divorce or your spouse has said the D word to you, please call to schedule a consultation to make sure you are as prepared as possible for the process.

Duenas Eden Law, Divorce Attorneys in Phoenix – Ahwatukee – Laveen

The Lawyers at Duenas Eden Law, PLC  listen and focus on helping you successfully manage your legal issues. We are experienced trial attorneys that focus on Divorce, Child Custody Cases, Child Support, Spousal Support, Same-Sex Legal Issues and other Family Law matters. Offices located in Ahawatukee and serving Phoenix, Laveen, Tempe, Chandler, Mesa and Gilbert. Trust the Family Law Attorneys of Duenas Eden Law, PLC. Call today: (480) 285-1735.

Family Law Attorney in Phoenix / Ahwatukee Dorian Eden
By Dorian L. Eden
Originally published in the April 2012 edition of Ocotillo Living

Health (and other insurance)

| Divorce Legally Speaking | November 25, 2019

Yikes! There was a rush of people filing for dissolution of marriage just after the first of the year – as there is every
year. Once someone files, they can change health, automobile and other insurance and even beneficiaries, right?

Hold on for a second! I’m sure you read the preliminary injunction that was issued when the petition for dissolution was filed, didn’t you? Or you read it when you received the documents from your spouse? If not, I won’t chastise you, but you need to go read it. You were ordered not to make any modifications to any insurance – meaning you were not allowed to remove the other person from your insurance just because you filed. (If you did, then you need to talk with someone about the potential implications for you.)

If a spouse disobeys the court’s instruction and removes the other from an insurance policy before the decree of dissolution of marriage is entered, a judge can order one person to pay the entire cost of a medical procedure that would have otherwise been covered had the medical insurance not been canceled. If you think that sounds harsh, the court can also fine or potentially incarcerate someone for violating the preliminary injunction – if the violation is severe enough.

The same is true for automobile insurance policies. You can’t take your spouse off of any insurance policy. I understand the argument that one person continues to pay for it while the other benefits. But, wouldn’t you rather pay the premium as opposed to taking your wife or husband off of a policy and then s/he gets in a car accident – with no insurance coverage? If you’re still married, then you both are liable and you’ll likely end up paying more to resolve the case than you would spend on the insurance premiums.

But what happens after the decree? Once people are legally divorced, then they cannot remain on the same health insurance policy. To do otherwise and mislead the insurance company is generally considered a very bad thing. So don’t do it!

Once the policyholder spouse notifies his/her human resources or the insurance company of the dissolution of marriage, usually the other spouse is provided notification of eligibility to enroll in COBRA. This can be expensive and it is usually worth checking into other insurance policies to determine the best, and most cost-effective coverage.

After a dissolution, both spouses should also obtain their own automobile and other insurance policies.

The idea behind the preliminary injunction is that assets, liabilities, insurance, etc. are to remain status quo during the dissolution of marriage. In essence, they are to be “frozen.” The courts don’t like people who ignore court orders. Are there things you can to do protect yourself before filing, absolutely! And, if you’re considering dissolution of marriage, you should consult with an experienced family law attorney to discuss what can, and cannot, be done.

Contact a Trusted Attorney

Duenas Eden Law, PLC provides Proven Judgement in Difficult Matters in Family Law, Divorce, Child Custody Cases, Same-Sex Legal Issues. Serving the Phoenix metro area including Ahawatukee, Laveen, Tempe, Chandler, Mesa and Gilbert. Trust the Family Law Attorneys of Duenas Eden Law, PLC. Call today: (480) 285-1735.

 

Family Law Attorney in Phoenix / Ahwatukee Dorian Eden
By Dorian L. Eden
Originally published in the April 2013 edition of Ocotillo Living

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