Area of Law:
In the event of a divorce, if either spouse does not have a separate estate, or if a spouses's assets are not sufficient to offer a means of support, a judge might order alimony, which is also known as spousal support, or in Arizona - spousal maintenance. Alimony is usually a monthly financial allowance paid by one spouse to another with its purpose being to offset any unfair economic effects of a divorce by providing a source of income to a non-wage earning or lower wage-earning spouse.
Spousal maintenance is not meant to be permanent in Arizona. The purpose of alimony is to be rehabilitative, meaning that it is meant to help the recipient spouse get back on their feet and become self-sufficient. Since it is common for both spouses to be wage earners, the awarding of alimony in Arizona is not extremely common, but it does exist.
To be eligible for alimony, spouses in all states, including Arizona, must have been legally married. According to lawyers.com, alimony can be awarded in Arizona based on the other spouse’s ability to pay, and it depends on a variety of factors, which include the following:
- The contribution of the spouse seeking maintenance to the earning ability of the other spouse and the extent that the seeking spouse reduced his or her income or career opportunities to benefit the other spouse
- The time necessary for the spouse to acquire education and training for suitable employment
- The spouse's future earning capacity
- The spouse's standard of living during the marriage
- The duration of the marriage
- The ability of the spouse providing maintenance to meet his or her own needs while providing the maintenance to the other
- The financial resources of the spouse seeking maintenance
- Any destruction, concealment, fraudulent disposition or excessive expenditures of jointly-held property
- The comparative financial resources of the spouses including their comparative earning capacities
- The age of the spouses
- The physical and emotional condition of the spouses
- The usual occupations and vocational skills of the spouses during the marriage
- The ability of both parties to contribute to the future educational costs of any children
- Any other factors the court may deem just and equitable
When considering spousal maintenance, Arizona courts also look at factors such as whether a spouse lacks sufficient property to maintain his or her needs, if a spouse must stay home with a young child and cannot support himself or herself with reasonable employment, whether a spouse supported the other spouse’s education during the marriage, and if the marriage was lengthy and the spouse has little or no chance of securing employment. Marital misconduct is not a factor when a court considers spousal maintenance in Arizona.
In Arizona, alimony awards are paid through the court, unless otherwise specified, and they are modifiable, meaning that at a later date, either party may request the court to raise, lower, or terminate the payments. Parties may also agree to make the spousal maintenance award non-modifiable. The terms of the divorce decree determine when the alimony will stop, although it will automatically stop in the event of the death or remarriage of the recipient spouse. To review the full text of Arizona’s support statutes, go to justia.com.