June 2016 – Spousal maintenance

Invariably, in almost every initial consultation for divorce, every attorney gets “that” question. Whether or not the parties have children, whether they are rich or poor, or whether they have been married since the dawn of time or just a couple of months – “that” question always comes up: “Will I get spousal maintenance?”or its inverse twin “Will I have to pay her (or him) alimony?” This is always followed up rather quickly with the same question regardless of which side you are on: “How much and for how long?” Even though the attorney knows it is coming, there is no quick or easy answer, except the classic lawyer response of “It depends”.

Spousal maintenance, or alimony as it also known, is not a simple fill in the blank, one size fits all issue. In Arizona, unlike child support, there is no set formula to determine first, if one will even qualify for an award of spousal maintenance, let alone how much and for how long the spousal maintenance will be. A.R.S. §25-319 gives some broad guidance as to some of the factors that the Court looks at, but it really is an issue that is dependent on the specific facts of your unique situation and how the “facts” of your case fit into those factors. Age of the parties, education, employment history, income for each of the parties, length of marriage are all factors that are considered, but this is certainly not a comprehensive list by any means. Unlike some states, Arizona views spousal maintenance’s main objective to be rehabilitative – allowing the lower income spouse to get on their feet, so to speak – not punitive, but one of the factors under the statute is the standard of living or lifestyle that the parties enjoyed during the marriage. The Judge assigned to your case has wide discretion to determine what facts in your case he or she thinks are the most important for a determination of spousal maintenance. Having an experienced attorney who has dealt with this issue at trial before and can tailor your argument to bring your best facts to the forefront for the Judge can mean the all the difference in obtaining the best outcome in your case.

Here at Owens & Perkins, our attorneys have over a hundred years of combined legal experience to answer any questions that you may have with respect to this issue and others relating to a divorce – just call us at (480) 630-2464.