Arizona Alimony 101
Alimony is a word that inspires a great deal of confusion – and sometimes fear – in Arizona divorces. If you’re going through a divorce, you may have a lot of questions about alimony. What types of alimony arrangements exist in Arizona? Who is eligible to receive alimony? How long do payments last? Today’s post will answer these and other important questions and highlight the basics of Arizona alimony.
What is Alimony?
The term “alimony” refers to money that one spouse pays out to the other for support. This financial arrangement might occur throughout the divorce process, be set up to begin after the divorce is complete, or both. Although alimony is the word most commonly used to describe payments like these, the state of Arizona uses the term “spousal maintenance.” As soon as the words “alimony” or “spousal maintenance” are brought to the table, it’s important to align yourself with an experienced divorce attorney like Schill Law Group who can help you wade through the process.
Why Do Spousal Maintenance Arrangements Exist?
You may find yourself wondering why a spousal maintenance arrangement might be made during or after a divorce. After all, if a couple has separated, why should one still be financially accountable to the other? The intent of alimony or spousal maintenance is to help individuals who, upon separation, find themselves unable to pay for their regular living expenses. This is to ensure that basic needs are met for at least some period of time.
What Types of Spousal Maintenance Arrangements Exist in Arizona?
If you or your ex spouse is seeking spousal maintenance in Arizona, you will need to understand the following types of arrangements:
Legally referred to as “pendente lite,” this type of arrangement occurs when a judge orders spousal maintenance during the course of the divorce proceedings. In some instances, the judge might also rule in favor of temporary maintenance for a designated period of time. This amount can be made in a lump sum or monthly payment.
In today’s age, it’s becoming increasingly rare for a judge to order permanent spousal maintenance. This is because the court views maintenance as a rehabilitation program that allows an individual to get back on their feet prior to supporting themselves. Usually, permanent maintenance is only granted when a spouse is unable to become self-supporting due to a disability.
In cases where one spouse sacrificed money, assets, or career in order to support the advancement of education and earning capacity of the other spouse, a judge may order limited spousal maintenance to allow for reimbursement.
Who Is Eligible for Spousal Maintenance?
In order for yourself or your spouse to be awarded maintenance, a judge must find that one spouse has a significant financial need while the other has the ability to pay. This may occur when one spouse doesn’t have enough property or assets to provide for reasonable needs, is not able to secure employment or be self-supporting, or when one spouse contributed to the other spouse’s education and/or employment opportunities.
How Are Maintenance Determinations Made?
The spousal maintenance agreement that is ordered by a judge will depend on several factors, such as:
- Length of marriage
- Age, employment history, physical/mental condition, and earning capacity of the spouse seeking maintenance
- Marital standard of living
- Spouse’s comparative financial resources
- The paying spouse’s ability to provide spousal support
- Costs of health insurance for each party
- Other financial resources that may be available to the spouse seeking maintenance
Are Spousal Agreements Set In Stone?
Certain changes in life and financial circumstances can result in your ability to petition that the court modify or terminate spousal support arrangements. Spousal support payments automatically terminate when the term of award expires (where applicable), when the recipient spouse is remarried, or upon the death of either party.