Spousal Maintenance (Alimony)
Spousal Maintenance, often referred to as alimony, is one of the most emotionally and financially impactful areas of a divorce. The recipient of spousal maintenance may be extremely stressed about the ability to financially support herself or himself after devoting many years of his or her life to raising the parties children and foregoing career opportunities. The receipt of spousal maintenance can profoundly impact that spouse’s future and quality of life. On the other hand, the payor of spousal maintenance may feel an injustice if he or she must continually pay to support what will soon be their former spouse. Uncertainty about the amount of support to be paid or the amount to be received will often cause extreme stress and hostility on both sides.
An experienced Family Law Attorney will not only understand and be empathic to the emotional component of this issue but will equip you with a knowledge of the law applied to the facts of your case to help you to transition from a place of emotion to a place of clarity.
At the Law Office of Tara Kilby, PLLC, we have counseled and educated countless clients on the issue of spousal maintenance for both the Payor and the recipient. At your initial complimentary thirty minute consultation, Attorney Tara Kilby will discuss with you in detail the statutory factors of spousal maintenance and how they do or do not apply to your case.
The following are some frequently asked questions about spousal maintenance:
HOW WILL I KNOW IF I AM ELIGIBLE TO RECEIVE SPOUSAL MAINTENANCE?
In Arizona, the primary objective of spousal maintenance is to transition the receiving spouse to independence. To qualify for spousal maintenance, at least one of the following must be true:
- The party seeking spousal maintenance 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.
- Contributed to the educational opportunities 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.
IF I QUALIFY FOR SPOUSAL MAINTENANCE HOW MUCH WILL I RECEIVE?
Assuming you qualify for spousal maintenance by meeting one of the above four conditions, the Court will consider the following factors to determine the amount of spousal maintenance to be paid and the duration:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- If both parties agree, the maintenance order and a decree of dissolution of marriage or of legal separation may state that its maintenance terms shall not be modified.
- Except as provided in subsection C of this section or section 25-317, subsection G, the court shall maintain continuing jurisdiction over the issue of maintenance for the period of time maintenance is awarded.
HOW DOES THE JUDGE CALCULATE THE AMOUNT OF SPOUSAL MAINTENANCE?
There are no guidelines that the Court uses to determine spousal maintenance. All of the factors listed above are taken into consideration by the Court to determine an award of spousal maintenance. The Court will also look at the income and expenses of both parties, in conjunction with the factors above to determine a spousal maintenance award. Essentially, in a typical situation, the Court performs a balancing test to determine what the “needs” of the recipient are to maintain payment of reasonable monthly expenses and the ability of the payor spouse to meet the needs of the recipient, while still maintaining his or her own necessary expenses. This is also done in consideration of all of the above-stated factors.
Judges are afforded tremendous discretion to determine a spousal maintenance award. Consequently, if there is no agreement between the parties and this issues becomes litigated, the ruling by a Judge often be unpredictable.
HOW LONG WILL I RECEIVE SPOUSAL MAINTENANCE?
There are no guidelines that the Court uses to determine a duration of spousal maintenance. The Court will consider the statutory factors outlined herein, with the length of the marriage being very relevant. In general, the longer the marriage the more likely you are to receive a longer term of spousal maintenance.
WILL THE PAYMENT OR RECEIPT OF SPOUSAL MAINTENANCE AFFECT MY TAXABLE INCOME?
The recipient of spousal maintenance will be required to pay income tax on the amount of spousal maintenance received. If you are the payor of spousal maintenance pursuant to a court order, the spousal maintenance payment made are tax deductible to you.
WHAT DO I DO IF MY SPOUSE STOPS PAYING ME SPOUSAL MAINTENANCE?
A Petition to Enforce can be filed with the Court to seek enforcement of payment.
CONTACT AN EXPERIENCED ATTORNEY TO DISCUSS SPOUSAL MAINTENANCE
Call (480) 634-8001 to schedule a complimentary thirty minute consultation with Attorney Tara Kilby to discuss your questions pertaining to Spousal Maintenance.
From our main office located in the East Valley in Mesa, Arizona and our satellite office located in the West Valley in Glendale, Arizona, the Law Office of Tara Kilby represents clients throughout Phoenix and the entire Phoenix Metropolitan area including Scottsdale, Gilbert, Mesa, Chandler, Tempe, and all West Valley cities in Maricopa County in addition to Queen Creek and San Tan Valley located in Pinal County.