Phoenix Spousal Maintenance / Alimony Lawyers
Phoenix Spousal Maintenance / Phoenix Alimony Attorneys
The term “alimony” is used in some states, while the term “spousal maintenance” is used in others. In Arizona we use the term spousal maintenance.
At Bishop, Del Vecchio & Beeks Law Office, P.C. our attorneys will provide you with initial feedback regarding spousal maintenance (whether we believe that you are entitled to it or whether you may need to pay it) during your consultation. If you have any questions, or if you would like to inquire about our services pertaining to spousal maintenance, please call (602) 749-8500 to get in touch with one of our Phoenix spousal support attorneys or visit either of our two Valley locations in Phoenix and Tempe.
Summary of Content
- What is Spousal Maintenance?
- Will I Have To Pay Alimony?
- Determining Payment Amount
- Spousal Maintenance Practice Tips (for Attorneys)
What is Spousal Maintenance?
Spousal maintenance is an award from the Court from one ex-spouse to the other in order to assist the spouse in need with meeting his or her reasonable financial needs based upon a number of statutory factors. Spousal maintenance is only awarded in divorce cases. If parties were never married, you cannot get spousal maintenance in Arizona. Pursuant to Arizona law it is not supposed to matter whether you are male or female in determining whether a party is entitled to spousal maintenance or has to pay spousal maintenance.
The factors that a Court must consider in determining if a party is eligible for spousal maintenance, and the amount and duration, is governed by statute – i.e. Arizona Revised Statute Section 25-319. To view a copy of Arizona Revised Statute Section 25-319, click here. Our family law attorneys in Phoenix are happy to assist you with all aspects of the spousal maintenance case whether you are requesting such an award or defending against the other party who is requesting such award.
Unlike child support, there is no formula in Arizona to apply to spousal maintenance cases. Although the Maricopa County Superior Court at one time (many years ago) adopted a set of “Spousal Maintenance Guidelines” which provided a formula to calculate spousal maintenance, such guidelines were generally only used by judges to see if their own separate determinations were reasonable. The spousal maintenance guidelines were eventually rescinded altogether. Our Phoenix alimony lawyers / Phoenix spousal maintenance lawyers are well versed in making claims for spousal maintenance and defending against claims for spousal maintenance. Leave your claims in the hands of our experienced spousal maintenance lawyers.
Will I Have To Pay Spousal Maintenance / Alimony?
Spousal maintenance is dictated by statute and case law. Because there is no formula, there is no absolute answer regarding whether a party will receive spousal maintenance, how much will be ordered or how long such will be ordered. In rendering our opinion regarding somebody will be entitled to spousal maintenance and whether somebody will have to pay spousal maintenance some cases are more obvious than others. Some cases may fall more in a gray area, such as short marriages, where the spouse’s incomes or ability to earn is not materially different, and cases where the spouse requesting spousal maintenance has other resources to meet his or her reasonable needs. Whether spousal maintenance is ordered, for how long, and for how much is generally within the broad discretion of the court. Such is based upon the statutory factors described herein, and how your judge decides to apply such factors to the facts in your case. Our attorneys are very experienced in these types of cases and can generally give you our very honest opinion regarding what to expect based upon the facts in your case.
You can see the full text of A.R.S. Section 25-319 by clicking here.
In short, according to A.R.S. §25-319(A), the party seeking support must meet one or more of the following criteria to be eligible to receive spousal support following a divorce:
- Whether a party can meet their reasonable needs through appropriate employment.
- Whether a party has property interests that will meet or help them meet their reasonable needs.
- Whether a party is disabled and unable to work.
- Whether a party has young children and should be allowed to stay home or work part-time.
- Whether one of the parties made significant contributions to the educational, career opportunities or earning ability of the other spouse.
- Whether the parties had a long marriage and party seeking support is of an age that may preclude adequate employment.
- Whether a party significantly reduced their income or career opportunities for the benefit of the other spouse.
Just because a party meets one of the eligibility requirements does not automatically mean that the Court will enter a spousal maintenance award. Rather, such means the requesting party is eligible to address the factors set forth in the other subsection of the statute regarding amount and duration and thus “possibly” obtain such an award. Some cases are more obvious than others – i.e. where a higher earning party clearly has the ability to pay spousal maintenance and can still afford his / her own personal expenses. On the other hand, there are cases where neither party has sufficient financial resources to pay the other party. In such case the Court could potentially determine that both parties face challenging financial challenges and thus could deny a spousal maintenance request or limit it to a smaller amount that the Court feels the other party can afford.
Determining Payment Amount
The amount and duration of a spousal maintenance award is to be determined pursuant to the factors set forth in subsection B of the same statute, i.e. A.R.S. §25-319(B). Some of these are pretty much the same as the factors set forth in subsection A regarding eligibility, but are addressed once again as to the amount and duration of the award. The amount and duration factors are summarized as follows.
- The standard of living during the marriage (the standard of living can affect what the Court finds a party’s “reasonable” needs are).
- How long the parties were married (generally, the longer the marriage the longer the spousal maintenance award).
- The age, employment history, earning ability, physical and emotional condition of the parties (this of course goes to whether a spouse can obtain adequate employment to meet his or her own reasonable financial needs).
- Whether the other party can pay spousal maintenance and still meet his or her own reasonable needs.
- Whether one of the parties makes more money or has more property than the other party.
- Whether one of the parties contributed to the other spouse’s educational and/or career opportunities.
- Whether one of the parties sacrificed his or her own income or career opportunities for the benefit of the other spouse.
- The time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to obtain appropriate employment, and whether this is possible.
- Whether one of the parties wasted or hid community assets or property.
The term “lifetime” spousal maintenance is rarely if ever used by the Court. Indefinite spousal maintenance regards an award without a termination date. This means that the person paying spousal maintenance has to continue making such payments until his or her circumstances change (such as retirement). Indefinite spousal maintenance awards may apply if the party requesting spousal maintenance is older, disabled, has been married a lengthy period of time and does not have the ability to meet his or her own reasonable needs in the future. This type of spousal maintenance award is discretionary with the Court and again depends upon the facts in your case.
Spousal Maintenance Practice Tips
A good family law attorney / divorce attorney can help you present your most persuasive case to the Court regarding the amount and duration of spousal maintenance – whether you are requesting spousal maintenance or challenging the other party’s request for spousal maintenance. Substantial trial experience can be very helpful in presenting your best case.
We have put together an extremely helpful set of Spousal Maintenance Tips for Attorneys or self-represented parties in this article written by William D. Bishop, Managing Partner of Bishop, Del Vecchio & Beeks Law Office, P.C.