Arizona Spousal Maintenance Attorney
Scottsdale Mediation Lawyer for Spousal Support Dispute Resolution
Spousal maintenance, sometimes referred to alimony or spousal support, is one of the most open-ended areas of family law. There are no set guidelines as to amount or duration, and the rulings seem to be across the board. For that reason, many divorcing couples attempt to minimize their downside risk by making an agreement or reaching a settlement through mediation or other means of alternative dispute resolution.
Spousal maintenance can be awarded to a divorcing spouse. It is decided at the time of a divorce or legal separation. Failure to seek an award of spousal maintenance at the time of divorce or legal separation could waive the right to seek it forever. Spousal maintenance is determined by a two prong test: first qualification, then amount and duration. Marital misconduct plays no part in establishing a spousal maintenance award.
To qualify for spousal maintenance, the court has to find that the spouse seeking maintenance:
- lacks sufficient property, including any property awarded to them, to provide for that spouses reasonable needs; or
- the spouse 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; or
- contributed to the educational opportunities of the other spouse; or 4) had a marriage of long duration and is of an age that may preclude the possibility of gaining employment adequate to be self-sufficient.
Once it is determined that a person qualifies for maintenance, the court must then decide the amount and duration. To do so it must consider all relevant factors. These factors include
- the standard of living during the marriage;
- the length 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 of 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 i the spouse from whom maintenance is sought is able to convert family health insurance to employee health insurance after the marriage is dissolved; and
- 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.
The award is normally modifiable and terminates, according to statute, upon the death or either party or the remarriage of the spouse seeking maintenance. However, the parties may make an agreement that the maintenance order shall not be modified.
Contact a Phoenix Arizona Spousal Maintenance Attorney
When you have questions about divorce or spousal maintenance or need a Scottsdale mediation lawyer, call 602-453-4200 or contact Heller Law Office online to schedule a consultation.