Under certain circumstances, in a proceeding for dissolution / divorce or legal separation, Arizona law allows for an award of spousal maintenance, which is sometimes called “alimony” or “spousal support.” See ARIZ. REV. STAT. ANN. § 25-319(A). It is important to bear in mind that even if a party qualifies for spousal support, the award will only be for an amount and duration that the Arizona court determines is just. See ARIZ. REV. STAT. ANN. § 25-319(B). As a result, Arizona courts will sometimes deny a request for spousal maintenance, when the other party has insufficient means to provide the financial support. Generally, Arizona courts will not consider marital misconduct in setting the amount or duration of the spousal maintenance award. See id.
I. Qualifying for Spousal Maintenance
Under Section 25-319(A), to qualify for spousal maintenance, the party seeking an award must show one or more of the following justifications:
1. The party lacks sufficient property to provide for that spouse’s reasonable needs.
2. The party is unable to be self-sufficient through appropriate employment, 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 an earning ability in the labor market adequate to be self-sufficient.
3. The party has made a significant financial or other contribution to the education, training, vocational skills, career, or earning ability of the other spouse.
4. The party had a marriage of long duration and is of an age that may preclude the possibility of gaining employment adequate to be self-sufficient.
5. The party has significantly reduced that spouse’s income or career opportunities for the benefit of the other spouse.
II. Determining the Amount / Duration of Spousal Maintenance
Under Section 25-319(B), an Arizona court considers all of the following factors in determining the amount and duration of a spousal maintenance award:
1. The standard of living established during the marriage.
2. The duration of the marriage.
3. The age, employment history, earning ability and physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance.
4. The ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to meet that spouse’s needs while meeting those of the spouse seeking maintenance.
5. The comparative financial resources of the spouses, including their comparative earning abilities in the labor market.
6. The contribution of the spouse seeking maintenance to the earning ability of the other spouse.
7. The extent to which the spouse seeking maintenance has reduced that spouse’s income or career opportunities for the benefit of the other spouse.
8. The ability of both parties after the dissolution to contribute to the future educational costs of their mutual children.
9. 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.
10. 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.
11. Excessive or abnormal expenditures, destruction, concealment or fraudulent disposition of community, joint tenancy and other property held in common.
12. 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.
13. All actual damages and judgments from conduct that resulted in criminal conviction of either spouse in which the other spouse or a child was the victim.
III. Effect of Premarital Agreement on Spousal Maintenance
Arizona does recognize and allow for the enforcement of premarital agreements, which may address and control the issue of spousal maintenance. See ARIZ. REV. STAT. ANN. § 25-202. However, “[i]f a provision of a premarital agreement modifies or eliminates spousal support and that modification or elimination causes one party to the agreement to be eligible for support under a program of public assistance at the time of separation or marital dissolution, a court, notwithstanding the terms of the agreement, may require the other party to provide support to the extent necessary to avoid that eligibility.” § 25-202(D).
Huffman-Shayeb Law, PLLC has experience helping clients with their spousal maintenance needs. If you are thinking about seeking, enforcing, modifying, or terminating a spousal maintenance award in the State of Arizona, contact Huffman-Shayeb Law, PLLC to schedule a consultation and discuss your options.
Disclaimer: This publication is for educational and informational purposes only, and represents Huffman-Shayeb Law, PLLC’s understanding of the present state of Arizona law. This publication does not constitute legal advice or counsel, and should not be construed as a comment on the merits of any particular case. It should be noted that the laws and requirements of the State of Arizona may change at any time and that this information may not be complete or correct.