If you’re going through a divorce or legal separation, one of the issues you’ll undoubtedly face is whether you or your spouse is entitled to spousal maintenance. Spousal maintenance, as it’s referred to in Arizona, is also known as alimony or spousal support in other jurisdictions. Unlike child support, spousal maintenance is not determined by a formula, but instead is left to the discretion of the court after taking into account a variety of factors specific to your individual case.
First, the court must determine whether or not spousal maintenance is appropriate in your case. In making that determination, the court will look to find out if any of the following reasons apply to the spouse seeking maintenance:
- He/She lacks sufficient property, including property apportioned to the spouse, to provide for that spouse’s reasonable needs.
- He/She is unable to be self sufficient through appropriate employment or is the custodian of a child whose age or condition is such that the custodian should not be required to seek employment outside the home or lacks earning ability in the labor market adequate to be self-sufficient.
- He/She contributed to the educational opportunities of the other spouse.
- He/She had a marriage of long duration and is of an age that may preclude the possibility of gaining employment adequate to be self sufficient.
If any of the above factors apply to the spouse seeking maintenance, the court may grant spousal maintenance. Once that initial determination is made, the court then must determine the amount and duration of the maintenance. In doing so, the court does not take into account whether either party engaged in any marital misconduct. Instead, the court looks at a variety of other factors, including but not limited to the duration of the marriage, the parties’ standard of living during the marriage, the comparative financial resources of the parties, etc…
Of course, the parties can always take this matter out of the court’s hands by reaching an agreement as to spousal maintenance on their own. In addition, parties can agree whether the issue of spousal maintenance is modifiable or not.
If you have questions about spousal maintenance or any other family law issue, feel free to contact us at 623-536-5500. Thank you.