A party’s entitlement to receive or obligation to pay spousal maintenance (alimony) depends on a number of factors and is unique in each case. The purpose of spousal maintenance is to assist a party who is not in a position to meet his or her own reasonable needs after a separation or divorce to achieve the goal of financial independence.

In recent years, spousal maintenance has been heavily structured toward providing a party the means to rehabilitate themselves to eventually become financially self-sufficient.

Determining Spousal Maintenance in Arizona Requires a Two-Part Analysis.

First, an inquiry is made whether a party qualifies for spousal maintenance. In order to qualify, a spouse must show he/she:

  • Lacks sufficient property, including property apportioned to the spouse, to provide for that spouse’s reasonable needs.
  • 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.
  • Has made a significant financial or other contribution to the education, training, vocational skills, career or earning ability of the other spouse.
  • Had a marriage of long duration and is of an age that may preclude the possibility of gaining employment adequate to be self-sufficient.
  • Has significantly reduced his/her income or career opportunities for the benefit of the other spouse.

If a party qualifies, the next inquiry becomes how much maintenance the spouse is entitled to receive and for long. There are twelve (12) factors the court must consider when analyzing that question.

Unlike child support, there is no formula which determines the precise length or amount of spousal maintenance.

Due to the subjective nature of the factors, there is often a wide range of possible outcomes for spousal maintenance. The thoroughness of budgets and specific plans for financial independence are a large part of obtaining spousal maintenance or defending against it.

What are the Qualifications for Spousal Maintenance?

The purpose of spousal maintenance is to assist a party who is not in a position to meet his/her own reasonable needs after separation or divorce to achieve the goal of financial independence. In order to qualify for maintenance, a party must meet one of the following criteria: (1) s/he lacks sufficient property, including property apportioned to him/her, to provide for his/her reasonable needs; (2) s/he 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) s/he has made a significant financial or other contribution to the education, training, vocational skills, career or earning ability of the other spouse; s/he had a marriage of long duration and is of an age that may preclude the possibility of gaining employment adequate to be self-sufficient; or s/he has significantly reduced his/her income or career opportunities for the benefit of the other spouse.

How Long will I Pay or Receive Spousal Maintenance and How Much will it Be?

The answer to this question is very complex. There is no formula supported by law which determines the length or amount of spousal maintenance. Due to the subjective nature of the factors involved, there is often a wide range of possible outcomes . The length and amount of the award of spousal maintenance depends on a number of factors including :the standard of living established during the marriage; the duration of the marriage; the age, employment history, earning ability and physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance; the ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to meet that spouse’s needs while meeting those of the spouse seeking maintenance; the comparative financial resources of the spouses, including their comparative earning abilities in the labor market; the contribution of the spouse seeking maintenance to the earning ability of the other spouse; the extent to which the spouse seeking maintenance has reduced that spouse’s income or career opportunities for the benefit of the other spouse; the ability of both parties after the dissolution to contribute to the future educational costs of their mutual children; 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; 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; excessive or abnormal expenditures, destruction, concealment or fraudulent disposition of community, joint tenancy and other property held in common; and the cost for the spouse seeking maintenance to obtain health insurance and the reduction in the cost of health insurance for the spouse from whom maintenance is sought, if any.

Will my Spouse Have to Pay my Attorney’s Fees?

Like Spousal Maintenance, a Judge’s decision on whether your spouse will have to pay (reimburse you) for attorney fees is discretionary. If the Judge determines that your spouse is in a better financial position or that he/she acted unreasonably, the Court may order your spouse to pay some or all of your Attorney’s Fees. There are numerous other issues and questions that may arise in any divorce. It is always best to consult an attorney regarding this complex and emotional process.