Stop Spousal Maintenance Payments In Arizona
Have you ever wondered if there was a way you could stop paying spousal maintenance in Arizona? Or did you just assume that getting divorced meant paying spousal support for life?
In a lot of cases, the process of dissolving a marriage was so emotionally taxing that many people just agreed to pay spousal maintenance without actually understanding the long-term financial impact on their future. Alternatively, we have seen spousal maintenance awards granted by judges after trial only because the person ordered to pay spousal maintenance was poorly represented and the judge did not hear relevant evidence which, if presented, may have resulted in an entirely different outcome.
First and foremost, we want you to understand there are different types of spousal maintenance in Arizona.
Temporary spousal support (pendent lite) means pending the final divorce. These spousal support orders are in place only during the divorce proceedings. Once the final order is entered, the temporary order for the payment of spousal maintenance automatically terminates by operation of law, referred to as “merger.”
Permanent Spousal Maintenance
Permanent spousal maintenance (spousal maintenance for life) is becoming relatively rare. The Court is looking at spousal support more as a rehabilitative tactic than anything else. It is most often seen as a temporary measure to provide the spouse receiving the support with the time to find a method of supporting themselves or get the necessary training to do so.
The Court will usually reserve permanent spousal maintenance to situations in which one spouse is unable to support themselves due to age or disability, etc. and typically only when the two were married for a long period. However, every judge has different perspectives on permanent spousal maintenance cases in short-term marriages, and there have been examples of judges awarding permanent spousal maintenance to a disabled spouse in a short-term marriage.
You may be able to stop paying spousal maintenance if such a person becomes able to contribute to their support, receives a sum of money through inheritance or some other source, or has someone else contributing to his or her living expenses.
Rehabilitative Spousal Maintenance
The most common form of spousal maintenance in Arizona is what is referred to as rehabilitative spousal maintenance. Rehabilitative spousal maintenance is designed to support the spouse while he or she pursues additional work experience, education, and or training to enable that person to help themselves. You may be able to stop paying spousal maintenance to such a person if he or she fails to follow through on obtaining that additional work experience, education, or training.
Compensatory Spousal Maintenance
Compensatory spousal support can be awarded as a means of reimbursing a spouse for their contribution to their former spouse’s education or career advancement.
If you are interested in the possibility that you may be eligible to stop paying maintenance or court-ordered spousal support, you need to know what you need to allege to have a chance of winning your case. You may be eligible to stop paying spousal maintenance if you can demonstrate the existence of a substantial and continuing change in circumstances.
First, Arizona Revised Statute Section 25-327(B) provides that, unless the Decree of Dissolution of Marriage or Decree of Legal Separation indicates otherwise, an award of spousal maintenance terminates upon the death of either party or upon remarriage of the spouse receiving the spousal maintenance.
We have written about the Arizona Court of Appeals decision in the Van Dyke v. Steinle case in which the court of appeals had to determine if a basis to terminate spousal maintenance exists when a former spouse receiving the spousal maintenance moves in with a love interest and is now sharing living costs with the new love interest. The Arizona Court of Appeals ruled that such a situation could be the basis for the trial court to either stop the spousal maintenance payments or modify the award.
Van Dyke v. Steinle Case Discussed
Other changes could be the result of any attempt by the person receiving spousal maintenance to do anything to increase their ability to support themselves. Once such appellate cases referred to such former spouse’s as “gold diggers” and another appellate case indicated that a trial court might stop spousal maintenance payments if the spouse receiving the spousal maintenance refuses to do anything to increase their ability to earn a higher income.
Another reason a court may stop spousal maintenance payments in Arizona is if either the paying spouse’s income has decreased significantly or the receiving spouse’s income has increased substantially. There is also precedent supporting the stopping of spousal maintenance payments when the recipient spouse receiving spouse gets an inheritance.
There are numerous reasons a court can stop spousal maintenance payments or at least modify those payments. Certainly, more scenarios than we can address. It is imperative, therefore, that you speak to an experienced Arizona spousal maintenance attorney, such as the spousal maintenance attorneys at Arizona Estate Planning Attorneys, PC to determine if you can stop spousal maintenance payments.
There are situations in which spousal maintenance can be terminated or modified. In some cases, the couple can decide on their own that they both agree to waive the maintenance or decreasing the amount is justified and fair.
In situations where one spouse feels a change to spousal maintenance is reasonable, and unless the final divorce order says otherwise, they can request a modification or termination through the court. Otherwise, the Court ordered spousal maintenance payments end when the term of an award expires and, except if the final Decree states otherwise, when the recipient spouse remarries or upon the death of either party.
Chris Hildebrand wrote this article about stopping spousal maintenance payments in Arizona to ensure everyone has access to information about spousal maintenance laws in Arizona. Chris is a family law attorney at Hildebrand Law, PC. He has over 24 years of Arizona family law experience and has received multiple awards, including US News and World Report “Top Arizona Divorce Attorneys”, Phoenix Magazine “Top Divorce Law Firms”, and Arizona Foothills Magazine “Best of the Valley” award. He believes the policies and procedures he uses to get his clients through a spousal maintenance case should all be guided by the principles of honesty, integrity, and actually caring about what his clients are going through.