Spousal Support

Spousal Maintenance or Alimony is spousal support ordered to be paid to a nonworking or unemployed or underemployed spouse during or after a divorce proceeding.  In Arizona, spousal support is known as spousal maintenance.  In many areas of the country, spousal support is called alimony.  Spousal Maintenance can be temporary (awarded during the pendency of the divorce proceeding) or permanent (awarded in the Decree of Dissolution of Marriage) or both.  The primary issue with Temporary Spousal Maintenance is the amount of the monthly payments.  The primary issues with Permanent Spousal Maintenance are the amount of the monthly payments and the duration of those payments.  Although it is possible to be awarded Permanent Spousal Maintenance indefinitely, or until the payor spouse retires, this is rarely done except in the case of a very long term marriage where the recipient spouse has not worked at all outside the home or is disabled and incapable of working.  In Arizona, Spousal Maintenance is rehabilitative.  This means that the court awards Spousal Maintenance so that the nonworking or lesser earning spouse can acquire a new career or refresh their job skills so that they can productively re-enter the work force.  All Spousal Maintenance in Arizona originates from A.R.S. 25-319.  This statute requires, at the outset, that the recipient spouse prove that s/he lacks sufficient property to provide for his or her reasonable needs or is unable to be self-sufficient through appropriate employment or lacks earning ability in the market to be self-sufficient.  A person may also qualify if they are the custodian of a child whose age or condition mandates that the custodian should not be required to work.  Other elements taken into account include whether the person seeking spousal maintenance contributed to the educational opportunities of their spouse, the length of the marriage and the age of the spouse requesting spousal maintenance.

If the court finds one or more of these factors exist and decides that spousal maintenance is appropriate, then the court looks at various factors in Subsection B of the statute to guide it on what amount to order and the appropriate term.  Included in these factors are the duration of the marriage, the standard of living established during the marriage, the age and employment history of both spouses, the financial resources of both spouses, etc.  Spousal Maintenance may be non-modifiable by agreement of the parties.  Otherwise, it is always modifiable as to both amount and duration.

*The information in this message is general and should not substitute for the advice and counsel of a licensed attorney.