Spousal Maintenance (Alimony) in Arizona

| Alimony / Spousal Maintenance Divorce Family Law | July 9, 2020

What most understand as “alimony” or “spousal support” is called “spousal maintenance” in Arizona. Spousal Maintenance issues can form a roadblock for a divorcing couple, both before and after entry of the decree. In this article we will share a little regarding what spousal maintenance is as well as the necessity of having an experienced family law attorney on your side.

What is Spousal Maintenance?

Generally speaking, spousal maintenance is a legal obligation on a person to provide financial support to their spouse before or after marital separation or divorce.1 This financial support is to provide a "safety net" for the spouse unable to provide sufficient income for his or her needs after the divorce.2 It should also be noted that spousal maintenance is separate from child support payments and includes eligibility and computation factors.

What is the Eligibility for Spousal Maintenance?

In Arizona A.R.S. § 25-319 proposes factors that contribute to the eligibility and computation of the maintenance. Below are the factors directly from the statute as of the publication date of this article:

A. In a proceeding for dissolution of marriage or legal separation, or a proceeding for maintenance following dissolution of the marriage by a court that lacked personal jurisdiction over the absent spouse, the court may grant a maintenance order for either spouse for any of the following reasons if it finds that the spouse seeking maintenance:

1. Lacks sufficient property, including property apportioned to the spouse, to provide for that spouse's reasonable needs.

2. 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.

3. Has made a significant financial or other contribution to the education, training, vocational skills, career or earning ability of the other spouse.

4. Had a marriage of long duration and is of an age that may preclude the possibility of gaining employment adequate to be self-sufficient.

5. Has significantly reduced that spouse's income or career opportunities for the benefit of the other spouse.

B. The maintenance order shall be in an amount and for a period of time as the court deems just, without regard to marital misconduct, and after considering all relevant factors, including:

1. The standard of living established during the marriage.

2. The duration of the marriage.

3. The age, employment history, earning ability and physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance.

4. The ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to meet that spouse's needs while meeting those of the spouse seeking maintenance.

5. The comparative financial resources of the spouses, including their comparative earning abilities in the labor market.

6. The contribution of the spouse seeking maintenance to the earning ability of the other spouse.

7. The extent to which the spouse seeking maintenance has reduced that spouse's income or career opportunities for the benefit of the other spouse.

8. The ability of both parties after the dissolution to contribute to the future educational costs of their mutual children.

9. 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.

10. 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.

11. Excessive or abnormal expenditures, destruction, concealment or fraudulent disposition of community, joint tenancy and other property held in common.

12. 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.

13. All actual damages and judgments from conduct that resulted in criminal conviction of either spouse in which the other spouse or a child was the victim.

C. If both parties agree, the maintenance order and a decree of dissolution of marriage or of legal separation may state that its maintenance terms shall not be modified.

D. Except as provided in subsection C of this section or section 25-317, subsection G, the court shall maintain continuing jurisdiction over the issue of maintenance for the period of time maintenance is awarded.

Seasoned Legal Representation Pursuing Your Fair Treatment

We will work with you to analyze your spousal maintenance situation. Among other things, we can help you with:

  • The 4-part spousal maintenance qualifying test
  • 13 factors considered how much spousal maintenance is awarded and for how long
  • Modifications
  • Enforcement

We are the Attorneys of Duenas Eden Law, in Phoenix, Arizona. We will work with you one-on-one as your lawyer to help you get the fair treatment you deserve when spousal maintenance is at stake, whether you receive it or pay it. In doing so, we place the emphasis where it belongs: On resolving conflict. We will work together to find the best solution for your needs, whether that solution means negotiation and settlement (as it often does) or going to court where necessary to protect your rights. Our Office in the Ahwatukee area of Phoenix, AZ and we serve the communities of Ocotillo, Chandler, Laveen, Tempe, Mesa, Gilbert and San Tan Valley. Call today: (480) 285-1735.

At Duenas Eden, the health and safety of our employees and clients is of utmost importance. We are currently working remotely, but are available to address your individual needs. We have added new telephone numbers to better assist you. Please call or text attorney Amy Duenas at (602) 492-5636, attorney Dorian Eden at (480) 269–1731, or paralegal Chris Esparza at (480) 269-2158.  Our main office number of (480) 285-1735 is still being monitored hourly. Thank you for your patience during this difficult time for all.

Sources:

1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alimony

2 https://superiorcourt.maricopa.gov/llrc/alimony/

https://www.azleg.gov/ars/25/00319.htm


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

Top Rated Attorney in Phoenix, AZ Ahwatukee - AV Preeminent by Martindale-Hubble