When the judge orders a divorce, it is possible that he will order one of the spouses to make temporary spousal maintenance or alimony payments. Spousal maintenance is financial assistance provided from one spouse to the other after the end of the marriage. This is separate from any child support that may result from sharing or having child custody. Spousal maintenance is designed to preserve the economic situation of both parties as it existed during the marriage.
How Do You Qualify for Alimony?
Generally, alimony is not awarded for shorter marriages (e.g. less than 5 years), however, the decision is made on an individual case basis and is always left up to the judge. A spouse may qualify for alimony if he or she can prove any of the following:
- The spouse not have enough property to provide for that spouse’s reasonable needs.
- The spouse is unable to be self-sufficient through appropriate employment.
- The spouse contributed to the educational opportunities of the other spouse.
- The spouse had a marriage of long duration and is of an age that may make obtaining adequate employment difficult.
How Much Alimony Can You Receive?
Alimony in Arizona can either be one lump sum payment or a temporary series of payments. There is no set formula or limit for awarding alimony. Unless agreed to by the parties, the judge will decide how much alimony should be paid according to the following factors:
- Marital standard of living
- The length of the marriage
- The age, employment history, earning ability and physical and emotional condition of each spouse
- The financial resources of each spouse
- If the spouse seeking maintenance contributed to the earning ability of the other spouse
- If the spouse seeking maintenance has reduced that spouse’s income or career opportunities for the benefit of the other spouse
- The ability of each spouse to contribute to the future educational costs of the marital children
- The financial resources of the spouse seeking maintenance and that spouse’s ability to meet his or her 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
- Misuse of marital funds or property
- The cost for the spouse seeking maintenance to obtain health insurance
- Any other relevant factors
While every case is different based on the factors listed above, but alimony awards in the United States can be quite high with some awards exceeding 1.3 million.
How Long Does Alimony Last?
Generally, alimony payments are temporary and are determined by the judge. However, alimony payments will end if either spouse dies, or if the spouse receiving payments remarries or chooses to cohabitate with another.
How Do You Petition for Alimony?
In Arizona, you must ask for alimony at the very beginning of the divorce proceeding in the Petition for Divorce. If you fail to request alimony at first, you may be able to ask for it later by asking the court to allow you to amend the Petition for Divorce. In the request you should also list why you qualify for alimony (see the list above). After a spouse asks the court for alimony, both spouses will be required to submit to the court an Affidavit of Financial Information.
Each County in Arizona has their own form, so it is important to fill out the form that belongs to the same County where you filed for divorce. This document must include bank statements, credit card statements, monthly expenses, evidence of recent income, etc. It is important that the Affidavit of Financial Information be complete and accurate and should be reviewed by an attorney to make sure you did not make any errors. An error or missing important information can delay your Petition.
Where Can You Find the Right Lawyer?
Divorce actions tend to be some of the most contentious legal cases and alimony awards can be quite significant. It is important to have a skilled attorney to advocate for you in this process. If you are looking for an attorney to help you with your alimony related issues, then contact a local Arizona family lawyer today.