Spousal Maintenance & Divorce In Arizona
Is The Husband Required To Pay Spousal Maintenance To The Wife After Their Divorce?
Many people assume that when a married couple divorces, the husband is required to pay the wife spousal maintenance for some amount of time. However, that old-fashioned stereotype is only true some of the time nowadays. If you believe spousal maintenance could be a key factor in your decision to get divorced, you need to understand Arizona family law. Read on to learn more about how spousal maintenance works in Arizona, and call 480-833-8000 to schedule your free consultation with our experienced family law team.
Arizona Family Law Basics
Arizona is a community property state, so all income earned and debts incurred during the marriage are divided evenly if two spouses divorce. Arizona values nonfinancial contributions to a marriage, such as raising children and taking care of the home. So often, when one spouse has been a homemaker while the other spouse worked outside of the home, the stay-at-home spouse will be awarded spousal maintenance in a divorce. The spouses can also come to a spousal support agreement out of court, without the judge’s intervention, if possible.
Spousal maintenance is also referred to as spousal support and alimony, but use of the word alimony is losing favor. Spousal maintenance is entirely separate from child support- in fact, the spouses don’t need to have children together for spousal maintenance to be ordered in a divorce.
The Different Types Of Spousal Maintenance In Arizona
There are different specific types of spousal maintenance made to fit different families’ needs. Much of this can be impacted by the decisions made during property division. Talk to an Arizona family law attorney if you are unsure which type of spousal maintenance is appropriate for your situation. Our Arizona family lawyers offer free consultations by phone- call 480-833-8000 to schedule yours today.
You guessed it- permanent spousal maintenance lasts until one of the parties passes away. However, if the recipient spouse remarries, that also terminates spousal maintenance in Arizona. This type of support is ordered more often after marriages of long duration, or where the recipient spouse is elderly or disabled and can’t be expected to go back out into the workforce. Permanent spousal maintenance can also be amended if something ever happens that impacts the paying spouse’s ability to continue support. However, a spouse can’t quit their job to avoid paying spousal maintenance.
This is the type of spousal maintenance most often awarded in Arizona divorces. It is also sometimes called “bridge the gap” spousal support. This type of support lasts long enough for the recipient spouse to go out and get an education or training so they can earn their own living. The support orders may be worded so that the support terminates on a certain date, or when certain conditions are met.
This is the least frequently awarded type of spousal maintenance in Arizona. It is meant to repay one spouse for their “investment” in the other. This investment doesn’t always have to be financial. The most common example would be if one spouse paid for the other spouse’s education and/or took care of most of the household domestic duties while they received their degree.
This type of support can be awarded while the divorce proceedings are still pending. Some divorces can take several months, or even years, to finalize. This keeps the potential recipient spouse afloat while the judge decides on property division and long term spousal maintenance. The amount the judge awards for temporary spousal maintenance may be different than the long term spousal maintenance award.
Factors That Affect Spousal Maintenance In Arizona
Family law judges don’t order spousal maintenance in every divorce in Arizona. They will analyze a variety of factors before deciding whether or not it is appropriate for the situation at hand. Unless agreed to by the spouses in a prenuptial or postnuptial, fault in the divorce will not be a factor considered when determining spousal maintenance. Some of those that are included are:
- The marriage’s duration: Spousal maintenance is more likely to ordered after marriages of long duration. This typically means 10 years or more, but spousal support can still be ordered after shorter marriages when other factors are present.
- The standard of living during the marriage: If the spouses lived a relatively wealthy and comfortable lifestyle, the court will try to preserve that standard for the spouses after divorce through spousal maintenance whenever possible. And if the couple struggled financially throughout the marriage, the judge might order lower or shorter spousal maintenance, or none at all.
- The spouses’ ages: If the spouses get divorced relatively young, the stay-at-home spouse can still presumably go out and make their way in some career, possibly with some temporary support in the meantime. On the other hand, if the spouses get divorced around retirement age, it’s unreasonable to expect the stay-at-home spouse to find and maintain gainful employment.
- Sacrificed opportunities: If one spouse gave up opportunities so that the other spouse could pursue their career, the court is more likely to award spousal maintenance.
- Earning abilities: A spouse that requests support and has a degree and prior experience in an industry may receive less than one whose only experience comes from inside the home. A spouse with an illness or disability may also need financial support after a divorce.
- Health insurance: If one spouse was working and providing a health insurance policy for the entire policy, the cost of a health insurance policy for the non-working spouse after a divorce can be considered when determining spousal maintenance.
- Property and ability to meet needs: Perhaps one spouse didn’t work for much of the marriage, but had a house and other properties before the marriage, making them separate property. That spouse might not have as much need for spousal maintenance as one whose only property is the community estate that will be divided equally in the divorce. One spouse may have also surrendered some of their share of the community estate in lieu of paying support.
How Long Will Spousal Support Last After My Arizona Divorce?
All of the factors above can affect how long support will be paid after your marriage is dissolved. However, if your orders aren’t permanent, you can generally expect that spousal support will last 3 years for every year that you were married. This can vary from case to case and from judge to judge.
Assistance With Spousal Maintenance & All Your Family Law Needs
Whether you’re requesting spousal maintenance or your spouse is requesting it from you, the outcome will impact your financial situation for the rest of your life. That’s why it’s crucial that you have skillful, dedicated representation to make sure you don’t end up with a permanent unfavorable spousal maintenance situation. You may also have property division, child paternity, child custody, and child support issues intertwined. My AZ Lawyers is your one stop shop to fulfill all of your family law needs. Our lawyers are experienced and offer affordable rates. To make our services even more budget-friendly, we also offer payment plan options. This all begins with your 100% free and confidential consultation. To get started, call 480-833-8000 or let us know when is most convenient for you through our online form.
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