Spousal Maintenance2020-05-05T15:27:50-07:00

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Spousal Maintenance

Spousal maintenance, called alimony in other jurisdictions, is entirely discretionary. No matter which side of the case you are on, you want the best attorney on your side. Our robust litigation practices and family law experience give our clients a competitive advantage inside the courtroom.

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Spousal maintenance (colloquially called alimony or spousal support) is a court-ordered obligation for an individual to financially support his or her spouse or former spouse. In Arizona, individuals can request spousal maintenance during divorce or legal separation. Broadly, the goal of maintenance is not to punish the wealthier spouse, but to minimize the economic harm to the poorer spouse caused by the termination of their marriage.

Pursuant to A.R.S. § 25-319(A), a spouse may be eligible for an award of spousal maintenance if he or she:

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.

These factors are non-inclusive, meaning that a spouse only needs to meet one of the factors to be eligible for spousal maintenance. However, eligibility does not mandate or guarantee an award of maintenance. Family courts reserve considerable discretion to decide spousal maintenance claims.

As mentioned when we provided the eligibility criteria, simply because a spouse is eligible does not guarantee an award of spousal maintenance. Maintenance awards are highly discretionary and the court must consider the following factors when deciding whether to award maintenance and the amount and duration of any award:

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.

When maintenance is awarded, it is typically withheld directly from the owing spouse’s paycheck for a prescribed number of months or years. Permanent maintenance is increasingly rare. Arizona family courts, at least in Maricopa County, favor temporary or transitional awards. Still, these awards can be significant duration, depending on how long the parties were married and their respective financial resources. The family court has considerable discretion when it comes to the monthly amount and duration of maintenance.

Unless both spouses agree to make spousal maintenance non-modifiable, it can be modified whenever there is a substantial and continuing change to any material circumstances. This means that either party can ask the court to increase or decrease maintenance if their financial circumstances change before the award’s termination date.

Below you will find recent appeals, sample legal documents, and other resources to help you better understand Arizona law related to spousal maintenance.

If you have questions about maintenance or any other family law issue, contact us for a free consultation with an experienced attorney.

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