Spousal Maintenance

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. 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. An indefinite award of spousal maintenance is rare.

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.

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Grounds for receipt of spousal maintenance include a lack of sufficient property to provide for reasonable needs, an inability to be self-sufficient through appropriate employment or a lack of earning ability in the market. A custodian of a child whose age or condition mandates that the custodian should not be required to work may also qualify. Other factors include whether the requesting spouse contributed to the educational opportunities of the opposing spouse, the length of the marriage and the age of the spouse requesting spousal maintenance. The court may also consider a spousal maintenance award if a spouse’s income or career opportunities have been significantly reduced for the benefit of the other spouse.

If the court finds one or more of these factors exist and spousal maintenance is appropriate, the amount and duration depends on a variety of factors including, but not limited to, the duration of the marriage, the standard of living established during the marriage, the age and employment history of both spouses and the financial resources of both spouses.

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