Spousal maintenance, previously and more commonly referred to as alimony, is a spouse’s court-ordered obligation to pay for the support and maintenance of the other spouse.
But not all spouses will qualify for spousal maintenance. Whether a spouse qualifies for maintenance will depend on a number of factors outlined by Arizona law.
In order to qualify for spousal maintenance, one of the following must be true:
- You do not have enough property, including property that will be awarded to you in the divorce, that could adequately provide for your reasonable needs
- You do not have the ability to be self-sufficient or lack the earning capacity to be self-sufficient in the labor market
- You are custodian of a child whose age or condition is such that you seeking employment should not be required
- You contributed to your spouse’s educational opportunities
- Your marriage was of “long duration” and you are of an age that may prevent you from ever becoming self-sufficient by employment
Even if only one of these criteria is true of your situation, you may be able to qualify for spousal maintenance.
Determining Spousal Maintenance Amount/Duration
Once it is clear you qualify for receiving maintenance, there is no clear-cut amount of maintenance you will receive. Similarly, there is no definite amount of time you will receive it for. The amount and time will be based on factors such as the length of your marriage, your age, your employment history, your earning ability, physical/emotional health and similar factors.
Also as important is whether your spouse will still be able to meet his or her own needs while also making maintenance payments to meet yours. If the spouse is unable to do so, you may not receive spousal maintenance even though you qualify under Arizona law. Talk to a lawyer to get a full picture of whether you should expect spousal maintenance based on the specifics of your Arizona divorce.
The Goal of Arizona’s Spousal Maintenance
In Arizona, spousal maintenance is “rehabilitative” in nature. Maintenance will be awarded in an amount and for a length of time that will enable you to become “self-sufficient.” This means different things in different cases, and to some extent is viewed in the context of the standard of living established during the marriage, especially if the marriage is of long duration.
In certain circumstances, you may receive maintenance for the rest of your life. Typically, this occurs if all of the following is true:
- The marriage is of long duration
- The earning abilities of you and your spouse are significantly different
- It is not anticipated that during your lifetime you can become self-sufficient
Making Your Own Agreements
Spousal maintenance does not need to be decided by an Arizona court. If you and your spouse agree on the amount and length of time you will receive maintenance, you may also agree that the maintenance is “non-modifiable” as to the amount and/or duration.
This means that no matter what happens to either of you during the term of maintenance, it cannot be modified. This is not the case if your case proceeds to trial and a judge enters an award of maintenance. In that case, your maintenance is subject to being modified by you or your spouse, upon a showing by either of you that there has been “a substantial change in circumstances” after the original award.
Maintenance ends upon your death, your spouse’s death or your remarriage unless you and your spouse agree differently. Finally, it is worth noting that spousal maintenance will be taxable income to you and deductible by your spouse, unless the two of you specifically agree otherwise.
Contact us at Hallier Lawrence for more information about spousal maintenance. We are here to protect your interests and ensure you obtain what is equitably yours. , contact Hallier Lawrence here