Understanding Why Alimony is Awarded
If you’re in the process of filing for divorce, you may be ordered to pay alimony. So, what is alimony in Arizona? An award of alimony occurs when a court finds, for example, one spouse should financially support the other spouse after a divorce or legal separation. This may occur because one spouse either lacks sufficient income, property, or both from which he or she can support themselves.
Financial support is not awarded in every divorce case, as it depends on the financial circumstances of both parties. If the court awards financial support, it most likely won’t have to be paid out forever. Here is a brief overview of alimony and what you can expect either on the paying or the receiving end.
The amount awarded as financial support is intended to limit the financial effect of a divorce by providing income to the lower or non-wage-earning spouse to eventually allow the other spouse to become self-supporting. It also depends on the other spouse’s ability to pay financial support to the other spouse. The court will consider these factors in the context of the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage.
Part of this reasoning is that because one spouse may have opted to forego a career in order the care for children, she or he may need time to develop a skill that can provide a self-sustaining income. Another reason is to provide the spouse with the same lifestyle he or she became accustomed to during the marriage.
The courts will consider these factors when determining whether or not to award alimony. But, the courts will also expect that the recipient of such an award prepares herself or himself to re-enter the job market and not be financially supported for an overly extended period.
Determining the Amount to be Paid
While child support is calculated according to certain guidelines established by the state, courts have more discretion when determining how much to award in spousal support. However, most states follow the Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act, which recommends the court consider the following when determining the amounts to be awarded:
- The spouse’s income and employment opportunity
- The couple’s standard of living before the divorce
- How long the couple was married
- Misconduct during the marriage, such as abuse or adultery
- The needs of any children in the marriage at both the time of the divorce and in consideration of the future
Determining How Long Financial Support Will be Paid
Spousal maintenance is sometimes referred to as “rehabilitative” so that it’s ordered only for as long as the receiving spouse needs it. If the divorce decree does not specify an exact date of when the payments will end, the payments continue until the court says otherwise.
Many times, people think of spousal maintenance as a payment made by the husband to the wife, but that’s not always the case. Many times men take time off from their career to raise the children because the wife has the better paying job. If this is your situation, you may be able to collect alimony while you’re preparing yourself for re-entry into the workforce.
Chris Hildebrand wrote this article about what is alimony in Arizona to ensure everyone has access to information about alimony and divorce in Arizona. Chris is a divorce and 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 divorce should all be guided by the principles of honesty, integrity, and actually caring about what his clients are going through in a divorce or family law case.
As Seen on CBS News, ABC News, NBC News, and Fox News