Going through a divorce can be a stressful process, and what makes it more complicated is contested matters such as spousal maintenance aka alimony. Alimony is a court-ordered amount one spouse pays to the other during or after the divorce is finalized. These court-ordered payments are not guaranteed in every divorce case, and the laws regarding alimony can vary by state. Here is how alimony works in Arizona.
Different Types of Alimony In Arizona
There are typically three types of alimony awarded by courts in Arizona: pendente lite alimony (temporary support), rehabilitative maintenance, or permanent maintenance. Pendente lite support is typically granted while the divorce is still pending. It is awarded by courts to the spouse who requires assistance to stay financially stable during the divorce process. However, a temporary support award does not necessarily guarantee a permanent spousal maintenance award after the divorce.
Temporary maintenance or rehabilitative maintenance typically occurs when the divorce is finalized. With this support, one spouse provides the other with court-ordered payments according to a fixed schedule.
Permanent spousal maintenance is rarely provided in divorces and is often reserved for extreme cases. It is generally awarded in cases involving a couple that has been married for decades or where the lower-earning spouse cannot provide for themselves due to age, disability, or illness.
Who Qualifies for Alimony
In Arizona, the spouse that requests alimony from the court must demonstrate that the other spouse is in a financial position to afford alimony payments and that they require financial support. The following are some common cases that would allow the spouse to qualify for alimony:
- Custody of a young child. This prevents them from availing of income-generating opportunities, such as employment.
- The spouse lacks sufficient financial assets to meet their reasonable needs.
- The couple has been married for a long time, and the requesting spouse is too old to support themselves financially.
- Serious illness or disability.
How Long Is Alimony Paid?
Permanent alimony payments typically stop upon the spouse’s death, when the recipient spouse gets remarried, or the divorce judgment is modified. Rehabilitative maintenance is generally provided to the requesting spouse until they obtain the mandatory training or education required to seek employment opportunities.
These payments can be as long as several months or even years. Rehabilitative or temporary support payments can also stop with a stipulation in the judgment given by the court if either spouse dies or the requesting spouse remarries.
Determining Alimony Amount
If the requesting spouse qualifies for alimony, Arizona courts typically consider specific factors when determining the amount and duration of spousal maintenance. For example, the length of the marriage is an important factor in determining alimony. Generally, if the requesting spouse was married for a long time, they may be granted a higher alimony than spouses who were married for a relatively short period.
The courts also consider the standard of living when determining the amount of alimony one spouse must pay the other. The paying spouse’s ability to meet their financial needs when providing support is also crucial.
Other factors include the time it would take the requesting spouse to obtain employment-related education or training, how both parties would contribute to the potential educational costs of their children, the costs of health insurance of both parties, and how much the requesting spouse contributed to the income of the paying spouse during the length of their marriage. A Phoenix alimony lawyer can help you.
How Is the Alimony Agreement Modified?
There are certain grounds for modification of a spousal support agreement in Arizona, one of which is if the financial situation of the supporting spouse changes after the initial spousal support agreement. Although spousal support agreements can be modified as a result of a mutual settlement of the divorced couple, for a formal modification, the court can consider the following factors:
- Change in the income of the requesting spouse.
- The receiving spouse has started to live with someone else, such as a fiancee or love interest.
- The paying spouse retires or loses their job.