What is Alimony or Spousal Maintenance in Arizona?
People thinking about a divorce or legal separation may ask what is alimony or spousal maintenance in Arizona. Spousal maintenance and alimony are the same thing, so you will see us using those terms interchangeably. Spousal maintenance is a monthly support obligation, separate from child support, that is paid from one spouse to the other spouse during the pendency of a divorce or legal separation and after a final divorce decree or legal separation decree is entered by the court. Whether a spouse is entitled to an award of alimony and the amount of alimony paid as well as the length of time that support is paid from one spouse to the other depends upon several factors.
Spousal maintenance in Arizona will not necessarily be granted in every divorce or legal separation case. Alimony in Arizona is a delicate subject, which will affect whether the person receiving alimony will be able to support themselves, as well as whether the person ordered to pay spousal maintenance will be able to pay his or her living expenses while paying alimony. To understand spousal maintenance you must first understand the different reasons a judge may award alimony in an Arizona family law case.
Reasons Courts Award Alimony or Spousal Maintenance
In Arizona there are three forms of spousal maintenance:
- Permanent Alimony: This type of alimony is granted when spouses are unable to support themselves appropriately and there is no indication that he or she will ever be able to support themselves in the future. This typically occurs when someone has a significant disability;
- Rehabilitative Alimony: Rehabilitative spousal maintenance is awarded when a spouse is unable to support themselves at the current time, but will be able to do so if he or she were to attain additional education, work experience or training that would enable him or her to support themselves in the future; or
- Compensatory Alimony: Compensatory spousal maintenance may be awarded when one spouse has contributed to the educational opportunities of the other spouse. For example, if a spouse had supported the family throughout the marriage to allow the other spouse to obtain education or further his or her career.
It is important to know that certain eligibility requirements must be met for a spouse to receive spousal maintenance in Arizona. These requirements include:
- The spouse lacks sufficient property to provide for his or her reasonable needs;
- Is unable to support themselves through appropriate employment;
- Must care for a child who is of such a young age that he or she should not be expected to work;
- Contributed to the educational opportunities of the other spouse;
- Had a marriage of long duration; or
- Is of an age that precludes a spouse from finding appropriate employment.
Amount of Spousal Maintenance Awarded
Alimony is not awarded in all Arizona divorce cases. In those cases where an award of spousal maintenance is appropriate, the court usually enters an award of rehabilitative spousal maintenance. The spouse seeking an award of rehabilitative spousal maintenance has the burden of demonstrating the steps he or she intends to take to increase his or her earning ability to provide their his or her own financial support. For example, a spouse may testify that he or she intends to obtain a college degree or attend an occupational program. That spouse would also need to present evidence of the cost of that education or training, as well as the length of time it will take that spouse to complete that education or training. Lastly, the spouse should present evidence of the cost of obtaining that education or training to consider when entering an award of alimony in an Arizona divorce or legal separation in Arizona.
Although there are many factors a court will consider when awarding alimony in Arizona, it has been our experience the that two most compelling factors are the length of the marriage and the difference in the parties’ incomes. Courts consider marriage of under ten years to be marriages of short duration, marriages of ten to 15 years to be marriages of moderate duration, and marriages lasting over fifteen years to marriages of long duration.
Contact Our Scottsdale and Phoenix Arizona Alimony Attorneys
Contact us today or call us at (480)305-8300 to schedule your consultation with one of our Scottsdale and Phoenix Arizona Spousal Maintenance Attorneys today regarding any questions you have regarding Arizona spousal maintenance laws or any other family law matter.