Alimony, more properly referred to as spousal maintenance under Arizona law, is a topic of great concern for many who are contemplating divorce. Under what circumstances is alimony paid, how much, can the amount change and when does it stop are common questions directed to a Mesa divorce attorney.
Requirements of Statute
In order to receive alimony, a person must show he or she meets one of the following requirements as set out by Arizona statute:
- The person lacks sufficient property to meet reasonable needs
- The person is unable to support him or herself or has a child whose age or condition makes employment impossible
- The person contributed to the education of the other spouse
- The person was married for such a duration that it is impossible to gain appropriate employment to meet reasonable needs
Factors in Determining the Amount of Spousal Maintenance
Initially, it is important to realize, as a Mesa divorce attorney will emphasize, marital misconduct is not a factor in awarding alimony. However, in determining what amount should be paid, the court will consider a number of factors, including:
- The length of the marriage
- The standard of living during the marriage
- The age and earning ability of each spouse
- The financial resources of each spouse
- The extent to which either spouse contributed to the earning power of the other
- The time required for either spouse to obtain the necessary training to be able to meet his or her own reasonable needs
- The extent to which either spouse destroyed community property or spent excessively.
A Rehabilitate State
Although the term rehabilitation may have a negative connotation for some, Arizona is a rehabilitate state when it comes to spousal maintenance; that is, a primary purpose is to allow the spouse who has not been the primary wage earner the opportunity, through education, training or a combination of the two, to be able to earn sufficient income to meet reasonable needs. Consequently, the same factors the court uses to determine the amount of alimony will also be used to set a time frame for how long alimony will be paid.
Based on a showing of good cause, which is primarily a change in some material circumstance, either party can return to court and request a modification to lower, raise or terminate alimony. For instance, such occurrences as the loss of employment, the attainment of a certain age by a child or retirement are all factors that may influence the court to modify an existing alimony order.
Absent a modification, alimony may terminate if it was initially deemed payable for a set period of time, the spouse receiving alimony remarries or one of the parties dies.
The above factors are what the court will look at if the issue of alimony is contested. If the parties can agree on an arrangement, the court will need to approve it but will rarely intercede to alter a mutually agreed upon alimony payment.
Contact a Mesa Divorce Attorney for Legal Advice
In addition to the enormous emotional toll that the dissolution of a marriage causes, there are important legal and financial considerations as you begin your new life. Make sure you have all the facts and consider all your options. Call the Law Offices of Janice M. Palmer, P.C., a Mesa divorce attorney, at (480) 820-4771.