Looking to see if you qualify for spousal support in Arizona? Spousal support (or maintenance) can be one of the most difficult issues to settle during the divorce process. If you both happen to agree that spousal support is appropriate in your situation, the next obstacle you must tackle is how much support is appropriate and for how long.
Paying spousal support can be a hard pill to swallow, sure. Hiring an attorney to litigate the issue of spousal support may equal half the support payments in one year, if not more. Unfortunately, unless the parties are able compromise and resolve issues of spousal support, they must resort to litigation and leave the decision making to a judge. Litigating the issue of spousal support is a big risk and paying (or preparing if you are self-represented) for trial is no small task.
Learning information essential to spousal support is vital to making informed decisions. Understanding your rights or obligations under the spousal support statue provides you a glimpse into the court’s (or rather, the judge’s) decision making process. This in turn empowers you to negotiate with your spouse.
Spousal maintenance in Arizona provides many factors a court must take into consideration. The family court judge takes a financial snapshot of the current and past earning history and lifestyle of the parties. Just as you and your spouse might disagree how these factors should be applied, be aware that judges are human beings and can also vary in their application of the factors to your circumstances.
Below are the relevant legal factors and practical considerations to a spousal maintenance claim during your divorce or legal separation in Arizona.
A.R.S. (Arizona Revised Statutes) § 25-319
The court may consider granting a spousal maintenance if the spouse seeking support:
- lacks sufficient property (including property the spouse is due to receive from the divorce) to provide for that spouse’s reasonable needs;
- is unable to be self-sufficient through employment;
- lacks earning ability in the employment market to be self-
- is the custodian of a minor child whose age or condition
requires that the spouse not seek employment; or
- Has made a significant financial or other contribution to the education, training, vocational skills, career or earning ability of the other spouse;
- Had a marriage of long duration and is of an age that may preclude the possibility of gaining employment adequate to be self-sufficient; or
- Has significantly reduced her or his income or career opportunities for the benefit of the other spouse.
How to Determine Amount and Length of Spousal Support.
1. The standard of living established during the marriage.
2. The duration of the marriage.
3. The age, employment history, earning ability and physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance.
4. The ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to meet that spouse’s needs while meeting those of the spouse seeking maintenance.
5. The comparative financial resources of the spouses, including their comparative earning abilities in the labor market.
6. The contribution of the spouse seeking maintenance to the earning ability of the other spouse.
7. The extent to which the spouse seeking maintenance has reduced that spouse’s income or career opportunities for the benefit of the other spouse.
8. The ability of both parties after the dissolution to contribute to the future educational costs of their mutual children.
9. The financial resources of the party seeking maintenance, including marital property apportioned to that spouse, and that spouse’s ability to meet that spouse’s own needs independently.
10. The time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment and whether such education or training is readily available.
11. Excessive or abnormal expenditures, destruction, concealment or fraudulent disposition of community, joint tenancy and other property held in common.
12. The cost for the spouse who is seeking maintenance to obtain health insurance and the reduction in the cost of health insurance for the spouse from whom maintenance is sought if the spouse from whom maintenance is sought is able to convert family health insurance to employee health insurance after the marriage is dissolved.
13. All actual damages and judgments from conduct that resulted in criminal conviction of either spouse in which the other spouse or a child was the victim.
Other Important Considerations:
- Spousal support is taxable income for the spouse receiving support and must be reported on his or her federal and state income tax return (except for joint tax returns in legal separation cases). The spouse paying support may deduct the annual spousal support paid from their taxable income.
- Parties may negotiate other equalization or offset payments in lieu of spousal maintenance.
- Spousal maintenance may be modified based on substantial and continuing circumstances, unless the parties agree to make in non-modifiable.
- Arizona law states that spousal maintenance is terminated upon the death or remarriage of the spouse receiving spousal maintenance. The parties may agree that in the event of the responsible party’s death, the remaining spousal payments are either terminated, placed in a trust or paid from the estate.
In addition to legal advice, parties should consider seeking advice from a tax professional or financial advisor.
To learn more about the divorce or legal separation process, please visit practicallydivorced.com, or book a consultation by contacting us directly via phone at (480) 977-6873 or email us at email@example.com
Practically Divorced, LLC is not a law firm and nothing contained in this article should substitute legal advice. Mediation is not appropriate for every case, particularly cases involving significant domestic violence. Each case should be evaluated on an individual basis. Consulting with an attorney is always encouraged to understand your individual rights under the law.