Alimony can be a major concern for many people going through a divorce. Arizona uses the term “spousal maintenance” and does not require it in all divorces. However, courts may order spousal maintenance in cases where one spouse has significantly less income or financial resources than the other.
Permanent spousal maintenance is rare, as the main purpose of alimony is to put each spouse on equal financial ground until the spouse receiving the support becomes more financially stable. The length of time this takes often depends on the specific circumstances of the case.
Instead of waiting for a court order, divorcing spouses can agree on the terms of an spousal maintenance agreement. The terms generally include the amount of payments and the length of time the payments will be made. If no agreement is reached, a court will decide these terms.
Factors to consider
There are several factors a court examines when deciding the terms of a spousal maintenance order. Some of these factors include the length of the marriage, the standard of living the couple enjoyed during the marriage and the age, employment status and earning capacity of each spouse.
Another factor that a court considers is any contributions one spouse made toward the other spouse’s ability to earn money. For example, if one spouse did not work to stay home and care for children while the other spouse worked, the spouse who stayed home may receive alimony/spousal support.
Additionally, if one spouse worked so the other spouse could attend school, the working spouse may request maintenance in return for their contribution to the other spouse’s increased earning capacity. The goal in any maintenance case is to achieve a fair outcome for both spouses.
It is important to note that Arizona is a “no-fault” divorce state. This means that marital fault is not a factor in an spousal maintenance decision. A spouse cannot use the other spouse’s infidelity, dishonesty or other marital misconduct to argue that they should not receive maintenance.
If alimony/spousal support is not paid, a court may order payments or the paying spouse’s wages could be garnished. A paying spouse may also be held in contempt of court and be subject to other penalties.