Divorce is a life changing event for everyone involved. Depending upon your individual circumstances, you might lose the financial support of the primary breadwinner following a divorce, be forced to move from the family home, share time with your children, and divide possessions. Recognizing the serious shifts that so often accompany a divorce, the Arizona legislature has adopted the concept of spousal maintenance (more commonly referred to as alimony). Spousal maintenance is ongoing payments from one spouse to the other. The intent of spousal maintenance is to make the divorce as equitable and fair as possible.
Spousal maintenance can be viewed as a way to level the playing field following a divorce. Often, throughout a marriage, one spouse will sacrifice professional or educational opportunities for the benefit of the household. For instance, a couple may elect to have one spouse stay home with the children while the other pursues a higher paying job. If the couple divorces, the stay at home spouse will be at a disadvantage as he or she will have fewer professional opportunities due to the sacrifice made during the marriage. In this and other similar cases, a court could issue an award of alimony to the former stay at home spouse until that spouse can adequately support him or herself.
Spousal maintenance/alimony is a very misunderstood concept in Arizona law. This misunderstanding derives from the fact that there are no direct rules of law or an equation that dictates whether spousal maintenance will be ordered, how long it will be ordered for, or for how much. Instead, Arizona Revised Statutes §25-319 provides for certain factors that a judge will take under consideration in determining whether spousal maintenance is appropriate. Ultimately, this determination will be on a case-by-case basis and contingent upon numerous underlying factors during the marriage.
Types of Spousal Maintenance/Alimony in Arizona
- Temporary or pendent lite: Temporary alimony is granted at the court’s discretion during the divorce proceedings. It is intended to provide for the immediate needs of the party during the divorce. Typically, it will terminate once the divorce becomes final. However, the judge could award temporary maintenance after the divorce becomes final for a period of time.
- Permanent spousal maintenance: Permanent spousal maintenance may be granted for a period of time that the court deems necessary. The award of this type of spousal maintenance/alimony has become increasingly rare. It is usually reserved for spouses with long term needs and generally only awarded when the marriage was lengthy.
If you are considering a divorce and concerned about paying or receiving spousal maintenance/alimony, the Phoenix Divorce Lawyers at Reppucci & Roeder can help. We understand the complex Arizona alimony laws and will fight you. Our years of experience handling divorce cases have earned us an “A” rating with the Better Business Bureau and a reputation for excellence throughout the Phoenix community. Call the Arizona divorce lawyers of Reppucci & Roeder today to schedule your free initial consultation.