Spousal Maintenance, known in many other states as “Alimony,” is one of the most ambiguous and difficult areas in Arizona Family Law. Determining whether to award spousal support during a divorce is a matter of judicial discretion. The award of spousal maintenance will be modifiable in the future (upon a showing of substantial and continuing change of circumstances) unless the parties agree that it shall be non-modifiable and such a provision is included in the final order
In making her/his decision, the judge will first consider the factors listed in Arizona Revised Statutes, Section 25-319(A). Those factors include the length of the marriage; the age of the spouse seeking spousal support; whether that spouse is able to be self-sufficient through employment; whether she/he has sufficient property to provide for her/his reasonable needs; and whether she/he is caring for a child whose age or condition makes it difficult or impossible to work. If the judge determines that one or more of the above factors applies, then spousal maintenance may be awarded.
As for how much should be paid in spousal maintenance, and how long it should be paid, the judge will look to section B of the statute. Arizona has no specific guidelines (as it does with child support) to make this determination, and there is nothing in the statute that specifically instructs the Court as to the amount, or the duration, of a spousal maintenance award. Instead, there is a second set of factors, which include the following: “
(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 spouses’ 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; and
(13) All actual damages and judgments from conduct that results in criminal conviction of either spouse in which the other spouse or child was the victim.”
Since there is no set of guidelines for the determination and calculation of spousal maintenance, the final result will depend on how each judge applies the statutory factors to the facts of the case. This can result in wide variations in spousal maintenance awards — and it makes it important for a person seeking spousal maintenance to present a solid case using a “needs-based” analysis. Thorough preparation, good organization, and a convincing courtroom presentation will give you the best chance for success. A strong, experienced attorney can greatly increase your chances of receiving a spousal maintenance award.
This response is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or representation. To understand your rights and obligations under the particular circumstances of your case, you should seek legal counsel.
The Law Firm of Gary Frank P.C. is an Arizona Family Law firm that has been a fixture in the prestigious Biltmore area of Phoenix, Arizona for over thirty years. Our attorneys, Gary Frank and Hanna Juncaj, are strong litigators, highly-skilled mediators, and compassionate counselors. We handle divorce and spousal maintenance cases, as well as legal decision-making, parenting time, child support, relocation/move-away, Paternity, Grandparents’ rights and Non-Parents’ rights cases, modification actions, enforcement actions, and all other matters related to Family Law. If you are in need of a consultation, attorneys Gary and Hanna would love to talk to you. Please call us today. You can reach our office at 602-383-3610, or you can contact us by email at through our website. To learn more about our firm, take a look at our web site at www.garyfranklaw.com. We’d be happy to help you.