The financial impact of a divorce can be among the most hotly contested of issues both during and after the dissolution of a marriage. This is especially true when one of the spouses is seeking spousal support (also called alimony and spousal maintenance).
Spousal support is the grayest and one of the most complex areas of family law, and each situation can have different results depending on the evidence presented, the skill of the attorney, and the viewpoint of each individual judge regarding the purpose of spousal maintenance. That is why it is important to work with a divorce lawyer who is an experienced advocate.
Arizona Spousal Maintenance Law
Unlike child support, in which there is a set of guidelines that all of the judges use, there is no guideline for spousal support in Arizona. Instead, the court looks at each claim on a case-by-case basis, using the factors listed in the spousal maintenance statute as a tool to help determine a proper spousal support amount.
When Can a Spouse Request Alimony in Arizona?
Arizona Revised Statute §25-319(A) contains a list of factors to help the court determine whether the party requesting support is eligible to receive spousal maintenance. Those factors include:
- The length of the marriage;
- Whether the spouse seeking support lacks the earning ability in the labor market adequate to be self-sufficient;
- Whether the spouse has income or property sufficient to provide for her/his reasonable needs;
- Whether the spouse seeking support contributed to the educational opportunities of the other spouse;
- Whether the spouse asking for support 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.
If the court deems that the spouse is eligible to receive spousal support under Section A, then it will look to the factors in Section B to determine the monthly amount, and the duration, of the spousal maintenance award.
Spousal Maintenance Factors (Section B)
A.R.S. §25-319(B) lists a number of factors for the court to consider when determining how much spousal support should be awarded and for how long. The factors are as follows:
- The standard of living established during the marriage
- The duration of the marriage
- The age, employment history, earning ability, and physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance
- The ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to meet his/her own needs while meeting those of the spouse seeking maintenance
- The comparative financial resources of the spouses, including their comparative earning abilities in the labor market
- The contribution of the spouse seeking maintenance to the earning ability of the other spouse
- The extent to which the spouse seeking maintenance has reduced his/her own income or career opportunities for the benefit of the other spouse
- The ability of both parties after the divorce to contribute to the future educational costs of their mutual children
- The financial resources of the party seeking maintenance, including the marital property apportioned to him/her, and that spouse’s ability to meet his/her own needs independently
- 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
- Excessive or abnormal expenditures, destruction, concealment or fraudulent disposition of community, joint tenancy, and other property held in common
- 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
- All actual damages and judgments from contracts that results in criminal conviction or either spouse in which the other spouse or a child was a victim
- All other factors that a court may deem relevant
In all alimony cases, the marital standard of living is a major factor that the Court will consider. In determining whether a spouse can be self-sufficient, the judge will view that spouse’s “needs” in the context of the lifestyle that she/he enjoyed during the marriage.
Contact a Spousal Support Attorney
At the office of Gary J. Frank, P.C., our Phoenix alimony lawyers have many years of experience helping clients through the most challenging aspects of divorce, including spousal maintenance/alimony. To learn how our law firm can help you, fill out our form or call 602-383-3610.