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What is Spousal Maintenance?

Spousal maintenance, alimony, or spousal support are all words that describe one thing–money one spouse might be ordered to pay to the other following a divorce. According to one source, alimony or spousal support “is a legal obligation on a person to provide financial support to their spouse before or after marital separation or divorce. The obligation arises from the divorce law or family law of each country.”

Spousal Maintenance, Alimony, and Spousal Support

Alimony is money paid from one party to the other throughout the divorce process or after. The party that receives alimony is dependent on who made the most money throughout the marriage and the position the spouses played. Once specifically called alimony, now typically called Spousal Maintenance or Support. It’s granted by a court order to retain the standard of living that each spouse became accustomed to throughout the marriage.

Permanent Alimony

Permanent alimony will be paid to the other until the death of the one receiving the payment. In many situations, remarriage doesn’t stop alimony. If it was a long-term marriage or one party has a disability that keeps them from working, the court has and will grant lifetime alimony that continues whether or not the recipient cohabitates or marries again. The drawback is that lump sum alimony can be taxed so make sure you know the tax repercussions prior to agreeing to a lump sum.

Temporary Alimony

Temporary alimony lasts for a set period of time. If the divorce creates a financial burden on a spouse, temporary alimony can be granted until that spouse can financially recover. The divorce laws and common judicial practices in the area you get divorced in will establish the length of temporary alimony.

Rehabilitative Alimony

Rehabilitative alimony is granted in cases in which a spouse requires assistance with college expenses or job training, so they can eventually get back to the workforce following the divorce. It’s typical for husbands or wives that have been stay at home dads or moms and haven’t worked in a while. Rehabilitative alimony allows a dependent spouse to take special job training or courses that will assist them in becoming independent financially.

Points to Consider

Each state has laws for establishing whether spousal maintenance/ support/ alimony will be paid. Having said that, you should also consider that judges have the right to utilize judicial discretion when deciding such matters. The following factors are typically thought about when deciding alimony:

  • The duration of the marriage.
  • How much a spouse contributes as a homemaker.
  • Possible earning potential of each spouse.
  • The age, emotional, physical and mental state of each spouse.
  • In the event of the custodial parent earning less due to parenting the child(ren).

Those elements including the judicial discretion of the judge has a role in if a spouse pays alimony and the amount. Because the judge has a little legal flexibility it is best to settle alimony matters when negotiating the divorce settlement. Doing this takes away the control from the judge and leaves it with you and your spouse.

Arizona Spousal Maintenance

A spouse wanting maintenance in Arizona needs to prove one of four things to be qualified to accept an award of alimony in Arizona. Particularly, the spouse is required prove any of the following:

  • The spouse doesn’t have adequate property to provide for their needs.
  • The spouse can’t be self-reliant through suitable employment.
  • The spouse had a long-lasting marriage and is too old to be able to work to be financially self-reliant.
  • The spouse is the custodian of a child of a younger age that they shouldn’t be expected to work. The spouse was a contributor to the other’s husband’s or wife’s schooling.

Disclaimer: Please note that this article is not intended to be legal advice. You should always talk to an attorney who is skilled at family law about your unique situation.

Divorce Attorney in Scottsdale & Phoenix, Arizona

Moshier Law should be your first choice for when you need the best divorce lawyer in Scottsdale and Phoenix, Arizona. An experienced family law attorney will work with you to obtain the best possible outcome in your situation. We advocate for our clients, so they have the brightest future possible. Give us a call today at 480-999-0800 for a free consultation.

Divorce and Family Law

When a case demands litigation, you’ll have the benefit of 19 years of litigation experience in California and Arizona. But when a case demands collaborative law, or mediation, you’ll know every option.

Moshier Law services all of Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona. Jennifer and her team of professionals seek to resolve Family Law cases efficiently with your goals in mind. Call us today! 480-999-0800

Financial Incentive for Spousal Maintenance

The incentive to pay spousal maintenance often lies in the ability to deduct it from income. In collaborative divorce, couples structure financial support to retain family funds and reduce tax payments. Emotional aspects make spousal maintenance discussions complex, especially for the “out” spouse who sacrificed career opportunities. While they may feel unrecognized, the financially “in” spouse might express feelings of being unsupported or undermined. These emotional dynamics can significantly escalate legal fees in traditional court battles. Collaborative approaches provide a platform to navigate these complexities while preserving family resources.

New Tax Laws Will Change Incentive to Pay Spousal Maintenance

Tax changes in 2019 alter the dynamics of spousal maintenance payments. Under the new laws, recipients of spousal maintenance won’t have taxable income, but payers can no longer deduct payments from their taxes. This loss of tax incentive may impact the willingness to pay alimony. In Arizona, lacking a spousal maintenance calculator adds complexity. While some attorneys use a developed formula, reaching an agreement becomes crucial to ensure an acceptable amount. Couples often opt to define their own spousal maintenance terms to avoid the uncertainty of a judge’s decision. Judicial inconsistencies in deciding amounts make agreements a safer route, preventing the need for appeals against excessive orders.

Spousal Maintenance Qualifications

Spousal maintenance is the term used by judges in Arizona family courts. It is paid under certain circumstances in Arizona. To qualify for a spousal maintenance order, a spouse has to show one of the following criteria based on an Arizona Statute:

  1. They lack sufficient property, including property awarded to them in the divorce, to provide for their reasonable needs.
  2. One spouse is unable to be self-sufficient through appropriate employment or cares for a child whose age or condition means the parent should not have to be employed outside the home. Or, the spouse doesn’t have the ability to earn adequate income.
  3. A spouse contributed to the educational opportunities of the other spouse, the payor.
  4. The spouses were married for a long time and now, the spouse seeking maintenance is at an age where they would not likely gain employment adequate to be self-sufficient.

In a litigated divorce case, once the court has found that one of these factors does apply the court will then examine sub-factors. For instance, the court will examine the standard of living during the marriage. When I have gone to trial on this issue, I’m looking at vacations the couple took. I look at the bank account balances for several years. We analyze credit card statements.

You Can Self-Determine

Understanding your lifestyle is crucial. Lawyers may debate your standard of living, but it’s expensive and time-consuming. Find an agreement that preserves your family’s wealth, considering tax strategies to retain money. Even if you disagree on other matters, prioritizing your kids’ financial well-being is common. Note: This isn’t legal advice; consult a family law attorney for personalized guidance. Refer to the Arizona Revised Statute on Spousal Maintenance for details. Click here for A.R.S. §25-319. See our other articles, “Trumps New Tax Plan Impacts Spousal Maintenance” and “Alimony Mistakes Even Big Law Firms Make in Divorce.” Also see, “Can Your Marriage Be Saved?” and “Trumps New Tax Plan Will Save YOU Money!”

Source:

Meyer, Cathy. “The Different Types of Alimony, Spousal Support, and Spousal Maintenance.” LiveAbout, LiveAbout, 11 Mar. 2018, www.liveabout.com/the-different-types-of-alimony-spousal-support-and-spousal-maintenance-1102807.

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