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

Kindergarten Taught Us All We Need to Know!

| Family Law Legally Speaking | January 16, 2020

“Affluenza”

“Affluenza.” Remember that catch phrase? For me, it’ll rank up there with twerking, photo bomb and selfies of new phrases that should be relieved of their duties as words. I will freely admit that I had to look up twerking on the Internet to find out what this meant and then watched in disgust the YouTube videos that popped up. But, I digress.

I’m [originally] writing this article days after Justin Beiber was arrested for driving under the influence and resisting arrest. My first question when I heard he was arrested was whether he is old enough to have a driver’s license. Then I heard allegedly his mother supplied him whatever it was he was under the influence of, and his father allegedly set up the roadblock for him to race.

Is affluenza present here? Remember the days when parents held their children accountable for their actions? I grew up in a time of kids being grounded, not being able to go to the movies and losing privileges to the family phone. Not parents giving their children narcotics or setting up a situation where the arrest of teenager is a likely outcome.

Then, in further reading of my quest to get the news from the Internet, I come across notes about parents behaving very badly during their children’s sporting events. Taken as a whole, maybe it is all starting to make sense. If parents behave badly in front of their children, their children will learn such behavior and repeat it. And, if someone is rich enough, they can buy their way out of criminal prosecution or a significant criminal penalty. Or, so says affluenza.

Simple Kindergarten Rules

Maybe what we learned in kindergarten really is all we need to know – treat others the way you want to be treated, share and have some time to run around outside every day. If we go back to those simple principles then maybe parents wouldn’t yell at each other at children’s sporting events and certainly wouldn’t yell at kids. Parents wouldn’t encourage or enable their children to break the law and children wouldn’t look at their role models – whomever they might be, and think that they can get away with “it” too.

Lawyers see a lot of negativity in their practices, especially lawyers who are engaged in any sort of litigation. We are trained to try to make things better for our clients, if possible. It should not matter if someone is wealthy or not, we should all treat each other the way we want to be treated.

I’ve reached my limit on allowable pontification. So one last point. Apparently born in 1994 makes the Biebster [then] 19 years old – old enough to drive and to know better.

Family Law Attorneys that Listen

Duenas Eden Law, PLC listens to your needs and your families needs and will offer advice to help in your family law matter. 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 March 2014 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

Sole Versus Joint? What Does Decision-Making Mean?

| Child Custody Legally Speaking | December 23, 2019

Custody Laws in Arizona

I wrote an article a few months back about the changes to Arizona Custody Laws. In summary, in family law cases “custody,” as it was formerly known, no longer exists. Now, divorced or non-married parents have either joint or sole decision-making about big decisions involving their minor children – typically things such as non-emergency medical care, education, religion and well-being issues. The family law judges start with the presumption that joint decision-making, meaning both parents are able to participate in making such important decisions, is in a child’s best interest. They do so because Arizona law requires such a presumption. See A.R.S. § 25-103(B)(2). But, there are exceptions to every rule and certainly cases where joint decision-making is not feasible and one parent is then granted sole decision-making authority. This is not common and typically limited to circumstances where there has been significant domestic violence or significant substance abuse issues, just to give a few examples.

Sole, Joint and Final Authority Decision Making

As family law judges and practitioners work on implementing the new laws (which really have been in effect since 2010), I am increasingly finding that judges are telling parents that sole decision-making does not mean that decisions are made to the exclusion of the other party. One judge recently stated that he views sole decision-making and joint decision-making with one parent having final authority to make decisions as meaning virtually the same thing. Other judges seem to be agreeing with this sentiment. This means that the parent with either sole or final authority to make decisions must first consult with the other parent and ask for his or her input on whatever the particular issue at hand. And only in the event of a disagreement may the parent with the authority to make the decision do so. For most parents, that probably seems like a no-brainer. You talk with the other parent of your children and try to come up with an agreement on how to handle a particular situation – just like people often do when they are together. Yet, in my line of work, I regularly see cases where judges have to tell parents that they have to at least make a good faith attempt to discuss the situation with the other parent because this is in a child’s best interest. It is these cases where parents are not thinking about what is in a child’s best interest, but rather, how are they to retaliate against the other parent. Judges see this too and generally are quick to spot when this is a problem.

Big Decisions

There are many examples of parents making big decisions about their children under the auspices of “sole” or “final” decision making authority. This inevitably causes the parent who was left out to feel as though the other parent does not value his or her input as a parent and if one parent does not value the other, then are they also expressing that to the children? There is, to some extent and in certain cases, validity to these concerns. This is quite possibly the reason why many judges order joint decision-making, even when it is clear the parents do not and cannot get along – because to give one parent authority will be to the other parent’s detriment. Judges get used to seeing essentially “repeat offenders” – those parents who will almost always have some issue pending before the court. They do not typically like making decisions about other people’s children, but if the

Consult with a Trusted Family Law Attorney

We understand that child custody and decision making is an important issue. The Lawyers at Duenas Eden Law, PLC listen to you and the decisions facing you and your children. We are trusted Family Law Attorneys focusing on Child Custody Cases, Child Support, Divorce, Spousal Support, Same-Sex Legal Issues and other Family Law matters. Serving the Phoenix metro area including Ahawatukee, Laveen, Tempe, Chandler, Mesa and Gilbert. Call today: (480) 285-1735.

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

Happy Holidays. Think Child Support and Taxes

| Child Support Legally Speaking | December 11, 2019

Current Year’s Child Support Must be Paid in Full by December, 31st

Happy Holidays! This is an exciting time of year with many holidays, celebrations, and tidings of joy and goodwill. And if child support obligations are not paid in full by December 31, then a child likely cannot be claimed for the tax dependency exemption come April 15. While this may Vascular Surgeon, not fit into the spirit of the season, it remains a vitally important part of your annual tax planning.

Division of Child Tax Dependency Exemption

If there is an order for child support, issued by an Arizona court, then there is also an order regarding division of the child tax dependency exemption. There is also an order relating to how the parents are to share in non-covered medical, dental, vision and sometimes orthodontia expenses.

Although most family law attorneys (myself included) do not give tax advice, we do have to discuss some tax issues. The child tax dependency exemption is a big one. As you may know, there is an exemption that may benefit a tax payor upon filing. Typically, the dependency exemptions are divided in one of two ways: (1) equally or (2) following the child support percentages of income. Any tax questions on what this means or how this could affect you should be directed to a certified public accountant.

Child Support Arrearages

In order for a parent to be able to claim a child for the tax dependency exemption and receive this benefit, usually that parent must be current on child support for that tax year. That doesn’t mean if there are child support arrearages owed then all of the arrears must be paid in full as well. However, if there is an order for payment of arrearages, then the arrearages must be paid per the order for that tax year. Meaning, if someone is to pay $50.00 a month toward arrearages, then if $600 was paid toward arrearages by December 31, the arrearage is paid per the order for that tax year.

For a child support order that does not include arrearages, as long as the parent who is ordered to pay child support has paid the full amount owed for that year by December 31, then the payor parent is able to claim the child when taxes are filed.

A Wrongful Claim of the Child Tax Dependency Exemption

What happens if a parent wrongfully claims a child for tax dependency purposes – either because it is not their year to claim or because they are not current on child support or courtordered arrearages for that year? In that case, it is extremely important to consult with a certified public accountant to discuss what rights or obligations may exist. The family court may also step in to order a parent to reimburse the other parent for the loss of the value of the tax dependency exemption or modify the child support order regarding how the tax dependency exemption will be shared. In other words, it could mean money to the one who lost out or having to pay money to the one who wrongfully took the exemption.

Consult with an Experienced Family Law Attorney and CPA

The child tax dependency exemption has value. If you have questions about the tax exemption, please consult with an experienced family law attorney and also a certified public accountant. 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 December 2013 edition of Ocotillo Living

Prenuptial agreements can help student loan borrowers

| Family Law | August 28, 2017

Everyone knows how the typical life story goes. A person goes to college and meets their sweetheart. Shortly after college, they get married and live happily ever after. Although this tale is still the case for many couples, a college degree now often comes with a large burden of debt. How is debt affecting marriage today and how do couples say “I do” to each other without applying that to each other’s debt? Continue reading…


How does someone qualify for alimony in Arizona?

| Family Law | May 25, 2017

We’ve all heard the term before: alimony. Also referred to as spousal support or spousal maintenance in some states, alimony payments oftentimes mean a temporary — or sometimes permanent — tie between spouses long after the last divorce document has been signed.

Just like its cousin child support, alimony isn’t always ordered in every divorce. That’s because there are certain requirements judges in Arizona consider before ordering one spouse to pay the other. So what are these requirements? Let’s take a look. Continue reading…


Top Rated Attorney in AZ - AV Preeminent by Martindale-Hubble