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Spousal support, also called alimony or spousal maintenance, may be ordered in certain circumstances to help a newly divorced spouse regain their footing to start anew. Whether you are a spouse seeking financial support or wonder if you will be expected to pay support, Martinez Family Law can help you. We have been working with families in Scottsdale for years and can guide you through your alimony negotiations, as well as help you estimate how much support you may be asked to provide.
Give us a call at (480) 571-7736 or contact our firm online for a free no-obligation consultation to discuss your unique case in detail.
Arizona offers several different types of spousal support, depending on where you and your spouse are in the divorce process. During divorce, a judge might award temporary “pendente lite” support until the divorce process concludes. Judges will likely order pendente lite support if they believe one spouse needs the other's financial help for regular living expenses and to remain financially stable during the divorce process. Keep in mind that this kind of support does not guarantee post-divorce support.
Following a divorce judgement, the judge can decide whether to order a temporary support award to continue for a fixed amount of time after the divorce. The goal of temporary post-divorce support is for the receiving spouse to use the financial assistance to boost their job skills, gain essential education requirements, and otherwise prepare themselves to be financially independent. Temporary support, sometimes referred to as "rehabilitative maintenance," allows the lower-earning spouse time to get back on stable financial footing after separation, especially in situations where they might have given up their career during the marriage to raise the family.
Arizona also provides permanent maintenance, though this is reserved for extreme cases when the lower-earning spouse is unable to become self-supporting due to illness, disability, or age.
Typically, post-divorce support will continue for a duration specified by the judge. It will end automatically if any of the following occurs:
- the term in the divorce judgment ends;
- the receiving spouse remarries; or
- either spouse dies.
The family court system has a two-step process for determining spousal support – first, the court must consider whether a party qualifies for spousal support, and second, the court must determine the amount and duration of support if they do qualify.
To qualify for support, the requesting spouse must demonstrate a need for support and the other's ability to pay. The definition of such a "need" for support depends on the individual case, but it could be if the requesting spouse:
- lacks sufficient property to provide for their needs;
- is unable to be self-sufficient through employment;
- contributed financially to the other spouse's training, education, or vocational skills to increase that spouse's earning ability;
- has significantly reduced income or career opportunities to benefit the other spouse; or
- is unable to obtain employment and become self-sufficient due to advanced age.
If the spouse does quality for support, the court might consider the following questions to determine the amount and duration:
- What standard of living was established during the marriage? What level of spousal support will enable the recipient spouse to approach that standard?
- Will the spouse who is ordered to pay support also be able to provide for their own needs?
- What is each spouse's age, employment history, earning ability, and physical and emotional health?
- What is the time necessary for the receiving spouse to obtain training or education to enable them to find appropriate employment? Are education and training readily available?
- Does either spouse exhibit excessive spending or destruction, concealment, or fraudulent disposition of jointly-held property?
Answers to these questions can be documented through testimony, bank account records, vocational expert analysis, and other credible means. Martinez Family Law can help you collect the necessary information to build your case for requesting alimony or for opposing it.
Alimony payments can be made in a single lump-sum payment or periodic monthly payments. Periodic payments are much more common and occur through a court’s income withholding order that requires the paying spouse’s employer to withhold the support payments from the employee’s wages, which will be routed to the receiving spouse. If your former spouse is not complying with the terms of your alimony agreement, you have the right to enforce or modify your agreement.
Questions? Call (480) 571-7736 to Get Started.
Note that spousal support is not determined by way of straightforward calculations as is the case with child support. Rather, family law judges examine a variety of factors, including the total financial resources of each party. Our firm can help you put your best foot forward as you petition for what you believe is fair, whether you are likely to pay spousal support or receive it. Attorney Elizebth J. Martinez is prepared to analyze your overall financial picture and render an opinion as to whether you are likely to be asked to pay alimony, or whether you should ask for it from your ex-spouse.
Contact Martinez Family Law to schedule a free initial consultation with no further obligation implied. Call (480) 571-7736 or fill out this online contact form.
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