Understanding Spousal Maintenance (Alimony) Under Arizona Law

Arizona law is gender neutral, in that the law is not written to reflect that alimony or spousal support is something paid by husband to wife. Rather, the Court must make a determination in any spousal maintenance case if spousal maintenance is applicable. To do so, the Court must consider four (and only four) factors. Only if the Court finds that one or more of the following apply, can the Court proceed to make any determination as to the amount and duration of spousal support. These critical first four factors are as follows:

1. Lacks sufficient property, including property apportioned to the spouse, to provide for that spouse’s reasonable needs.

2. Is unable to be self-sufficient through appropriate employment or is the custodian of a child whose age or condition is such that the custodian should not be required to seek employment outside the home or lacks earning ability in the labor market adequate to be self-sufficient.

3. Contributed to the educational opportunities of the other spouse.

4. Had a marriage of long duration and is of an age that may preclude the possibility of gaining employment adequate to be self-sufficient.

Assuming that the Court finds one of the above four factors to be applicable, the Court will then consider a variety of other factors to determine the proper amount and duration of spousal support in any case. By statute, the Court must then consider the following additional factors:

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 results in criminal conviction of either spouse in which the other spouse or child was the victim.

Unlike the first four factors, which are exclusive, meaning the Court can only consider these factors, the second list is not exclusive, and the court can consider other relevant factors. However, the Court is not able to consider “fault” such as whether one party had an affair or whose fault the divorce is, etc.

Spousal support cases can be complicated on either side, as the requestor or as the potential payor. If you are involved in a divorce case involving spousal support and want experienced legal representation, please call 800-899-2730 and ask to speak with Douglas C. Gardner, or visit our website at www.yourarizonadivorcelawyer.com.