When going through a legal separation or divorce, some of the most common questions are about alimony, which in Arizona is called “spousal maintenance” or “spousal support.” There are many factors that the court considers when making spousal maintenance orders and which should be considered when reaching an agreement through mediation or a collaborative process, but it can be complicated and contentious.
Whether you were the family breadwinner or you stayed home to support the household, you need the help of qualified Tempe spousal support attorney Adriana Blanchette at Blanchette Law PLLC to avoid financial disadvantage after your divorce or separation.
Call (602) 881-1748 today to schedule your consultation with Blanchette Law PLLC.
Spousal maintenance, known by many as “alimony” or “spousal support”, is the financial support paid by one spouse to the other during or after a divorce or legal separation. Support assists the supported spouse in their transition into working or finding a job with which they can support themselves, and to maintain a reasonable standard of living as compared to the one enjoyed during the marriage.
Although spouses might agree that the spouse who hasn’t worked or earns significantly less than the other should receive support, the amount and duration are often contested and require the consideration of factors outlined in case law and statute. The factors considered in determining support also depend on the type of support that’s appropriate for where a case is in the divorce process.
There are three common types of spousal support:
This support is ordered payable during the pendency of the proceedings which is intended to aid the supported spouse with their living expenses while litigation is pending. A temporary support order doesn’t guarantee that additional orders will be made in the final decree.
Permanent support isn’t very common and requires that the supported spouse prove that such an order is reasonable and necessary based on the factors that the court must consider. It’s mostly ordered in marriages of long duration and when health conditions prevent one spouse from working.
Although there is no established termination date, some circumstances which can cause permanent support to end are:
Rehabilitative maintenance is also part of the final decree, but it has a predetermined duration for which it will be paid. This type of support is generally used to provide the supported party with assistance while they find a job or obtain the education or training necessary to find a job with which they can support themselves.
Divorce laws are complicated and confusing, especially for spousal support where there’s no set formula for calculating support, and an order for support is neither guaranteed nor mandatory.
Tempe spousal support lawyer Adriana Blanchette can help you determine which type of spousal maintenance you qualify for by reviewing the factors the court will consider when awarding and calculating spousal maintenance.
Under Arizona Revised Statute §25-319, a spouse who wishes to receive support must first qualify for a spousal maintenance award before the amount and duration of support can be determined. The court has the discretion to issue a support order if they find that the spouse seeking support is eligible based on the following circumstances.
A spouse may qualify to receive support if they have insufficient property, including property they receive as part of the divorce, to provide for their reasonable needs. The court will consider an amount that will be sustainable for a reasonable period of time rather than one that would be rapidly used to pay bills, leaving them with little to live on.
If a spouse lacks the ability to be self-sufficient in the workforce or earnings market based on their present skills, abilities, and work history.
The court will consider the effect a child’s needs have on a parent’s ability to work, such as when a child hasn’t started school, if the cost of childcare would render any income earned to be obsolete, or if a child has special needs that require a full time caregiver.
If one spouse made significant contributions, financially or otherwise, to their spouse’s education, training, vocational skills, career or earning ability during the marriage, and as a result reduced their own income or career opportunities, they may be eligible for spousal maintenance.
The court has the discretion to issue spousal support orders when parties were married for a long time, and when the spouse who’s seeking support is of an age that will hinder or prevent them from gaining employment that will allow them to be self-sufficient.
Generally, Arizona courts consider a 10-15 year marriage one of moderate duration, and 15+ years is one of long duration.
After the court finds that a spousal maintenance award is appropriate, the judge must then analyze the factors outlined in ARS §25-319 when determining the amount and the duration of the award, i.e. permanent or rehabilitative support, while preventing an unfair economic effect on either spouse after divorce. Here’s a closer look at some of the factors the courts will evaluate.
One of the first things the court considers in calculating spousal support is the comparative financial resources of both spouses, including their earning abilities in the current labor market, and whether those abilities are sufficient to be self-supporting.
Even in cases where the payor earns far more than the spouse seeking maintenance, it’s possible that the spouse seeking maintenance won’t receive a support award \if the court finds that his or her earnings are reasonably sufficient to meet their needs.
Arizona courts will also consider the standard of living that the spouses enjoyed during their marriage, paying special attention to housing, entertainment and dining, and luxuries like vacations.
The court’s goal isn’t to maintain the standard of living the supported spouse enjoyed during the marriage, but to achieve a balance between the paying spouse’s income and maintaining a reasonable standard of living. The marital standard of living is a contributing factor, not a controlling one.
The court might not readily award you spousal support if your marriage was of short duration, especially if it lasted five years or less. On the other hand, the court will give a lot of deference to long-term marriages like those of 20 years and above.
Arizona family courts consider how realistic and possible it is for the spouse seeking maintenance to obtain appropriate employment. The ability to seek work will usually depend on:
The amount of a spousal maintenance award will be influenced by the opportunities available and the likelihood that they will obtain employment at their age and with their current skill set.
The judge considers the physical and emotional condition of both parties. In a situation where the supported spouse isn’t healthy physically or emotionally and those conditions will negatively affect their ability to get a job or start a career, the courts will be more inclined to issue an order for higher support than if they were healthier.
One of the most vital factors the judge examines is whether or not the payor spouse has the ability to pay support, and if they do, then how much when balanced with the other factors. The court will not force the paying spouse to get alternative or additional employment or work overtime just to pay support if they truly can’t afford it.
Each spouse’s capacity after the divorce to meaningfully contribute to the future educational costs of their children is essential in determining spousal support.
The outcome of your case depends on the evidence that’s presented in court. When determining the amount and duration of spousal support, Arizona courts will also:
The outcome of your case depends on what evidence is presented to the court and how it’s presented. Your financial future is far too important to risk attending court on a spousal support maintenance issue without representation of Adriana Blanchette, a premier Tempe spousal support attorney.
With Adriana Blanchette’s expertise and vast experience as a top-rated family law attorney in Tempe, rest assured that she’ll take the best legal approach to protect you and ensure a stable financial future for you and your child(ren).
Call 602-881-1748 today to discuss your options and protect your future.