Spousal maintenance or alimony is a type of support that either spouse can request when they file for divorce in Arizona. However, spousal support will not automatically be ordered simply because one spouse asks for it. There are several factors that courts consider when deciding whether to order spousal maintenance.
If one parent is ordered to pay spousal support and child support, the parent must comply with both orders.
If you think that spousal maintenance might be an issue in your divorce case, you should speak to Stephanie Villalobos, LP at De Novo Law.
Ms. Villalobos is a licensed legal paraprofessional who is authorized to provide experienced legal representation in family law matters to people in Arizona without the supervision of an attorney.
Working with De Novo Law might provide you with a way to handle your case at a more affordable cost.
Factors Considered When Deciding Whether to Issue Spousal Maintenance Orders
Judges have significant discretion when determining whether a spousal maintenance order is appropriate as well as how long an order might last and in what amount. Spousal maintenance is not guaranteed and is instead determined based on multiple factors.
Under ARS 25-319, the judge will first decide whether or not the requesting spouse is entitled to spousal support.
If the judge determines that support should be ordered, he or she will then decide how long the order should last and how much the payor spouse will have to pay.
When deciding whether a spouse is entitled to spousal support, the court will consider the following factors:
- Whether the requesting spouse does not have enough assets to support his or her needs
- Whether the requesting spouse is capable of making enough income to be self-supporting without the help of the other spouse
- Whether the requesting spouse is a child’s primary caregiver and is thus prevented from working full-time
- Whether the requesting spouse contributed to the other spouse’s earning ability, education, and career
- Whether the requesting spouse made substantial sacrifices in his or her career for the other spouse’s benefit
- Whether the marriage lasted a long time, and one spouse is old enough that it prevents him or her from seeking employment
If the court finds that the spouse is entitled to alimony after considering these factors, it will then consider the following additional factors to calculate the amount to order and how long the payor spouse will be required to make payments:
- The standard of living both spouses enjoyed during the marriage
- The length of the marriage
- Both spouses’ ages
- The mental and physical health of each spouse
- The spouses’ respective employment history and earnings capacity
- The financial resources and incomes of both spouses
- Each spouses’ contributions to the earnings capacity or education of the other spouse
- Any career or earnings sacrifices either spouse made to benefit the other spouse
- The ability of each spouse to contribute to a child’s future educational costs
- Whether a spouse wasted assets during the marriage
- How long it will take the spouse who is entitled to support to complete enough education to find a job that will allow him or her to self-support
- Health insurance costs for both spouses after the divorce
- Damages between the spouses when one spouse was convicted of a criminal offense with the child or spouse as the victim
Under ARS 25-530, judges cannot consider veterans’ disability benefits a spouse receives for service-related disabilities when they calculate a spouse’s income for spousal support purposes. Courts also do not consider marital misconduct when deciding whether to award alimony.
Disparities in Income
The fact that a disparity exists between the incomes earned by the spouses does not mean that the lower-earning spouse will automatically receive spousal support.
The judge will consider the previously listed factors to determine whether the requesting spouse is entitled to support.
When Must Spousal Support Be Requested?
In general, you must request spousal maintenance while your divorce is pending. You cannot come back later and ask for your divorce case to be reopened so that you can pursue alimony. However, there is one exception to this general rule.
If the court that granted your divorce was unable to secure personal jurisdiction over your former spouse, you can reopen the case later to pursue spousal maintenance.
Modifying Spousal Maintenance Orders
If you are ordered to pay spousal maintenance under a previous order but have suffered substantial changes in your financial circumstances that make it difficult for you to make your payments, you should speak to Stephanie Villalobos, LP at De Novo Law for help with filing a motion to modify your spousal maintenance.
For a modification to be granted, you will need to present evidence showing that you have experienced a substantial and continuing change in your financial circumstances. Modifications are allowed under ARS 25-327.
You need to continue making your spousal support payments while your modification is pending. The court’s modification will not erase any arrearages that you have accumulated before the date you filed your motion to modify.
However, courts normally will make their modifications retroactive back to the month after you served your petition to modify spousal support on your former spouse. You must get help quickly when your financial circumstances change.
Spousal Maintenance Terminations
If your former spouse remarries or dies, your obligation to pay spousal maintenance will end. Notify the court if your former spouse has remarried.
However, you cannot end your spousal maintenance because you remarry when your former spouse does not. If you die, your estate will not have to continue paying spousal maintenance.
Talk to De Novo Law for Help with Spousal Maintenance
If you want to request spousal maintenance or believe that you might have to pay it in your divorce, you should speak to Stephanie Villalobos, LP at De Novo Law.
Ms. Villalobos has more than 30 years of experience in family law and can provide you with affordable and skilled legal representation. Contact us today to request a consultation.
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