What is Spousal Maintenance?
Spousal maintenance, sometimes referred to as “alimony” in other jurisdictions, involves one spouse making support payments to the other spouse for a period of time. There are a number of reasons spousal maintenance might be awarded.
Consider a married couple who has children and decides that the husband should stay home to raise the children. By doing so, the husband gives up his career advancement, and simultaneously assists in his wife’s career advancement by making it possible for her to continue working. If the couple then decides to divorce, the husband may not be able to support himself. An award of spousal maintenance may be appropriate to provide support to the husband as he tries to re-enter the workforce, or while he gets additional education that may be necessary for him to re-enter the workforce.
How is Spousal Maintenance Calculated?
Unlike child support, there is no spousal maintenance calculator. As a result, spousal maintenance awards can be unpredictable, and can vary widely depending on the facts and the court.
Before deciding on a spousal maintenance amount, the court must first decide whether or not a spouse should even receive any spousal maintenance. The court looks at 4 factors found in A.R.S. 25-319(A) to determine if a spousal maintenance award is appropriate:
- Does the spouse lack sufficient property to provide for that spouse’s reasonable needs?
- If the spouse unable to be self-sufficient through reasonable employment, or is the spouse the custodian of a child whose age or condition precludes employment, or does the spouse lack earning ability in the labor market to be self-sufficient?
- Did the spouse contribute to the educational opportunities of the other spouse?
- Was it a long marriage and is the spouse of an age that precludes employment that would make the spouse self-sufficient?
If the court decides that a spouse is entitled to spousal maintenance, the court then looks at an additional 13 factors found in A.R.S. 28-319(B) to determine how much should be paid in spousal maintenance and for how long:
- The standard of living established during the marriage.
- The duration of the marriage.
- The age, employment history, earning ability and physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance.
- The ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to meet that spouse’s needs while meeting those of the spouse seeking maintenance.
- The comparative financial resources of the spouses, including their comparative earning abilities in the labor market.
- The contribution of the spouse seeking maintenance to the earning ability of the other spouse.
- The extent to which the spouse seeking maintenance has reduced that spouse’s income or career opportunities for the benefit of the other spouse.
- The ability of both parties after the dissolution to contribute to the future educational costs of their mutual children.
- The financial resources of the party seeking maintenance, including marital property apportioned to that spouse, and that spouse’s ability to meet that spouse’s 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.
- Excessive or abnormal expenditures, destruction, concealment or fraudulent disposition of community, joint tenancy and other property held in common.
- The cost for the spouse who is seeking maintenance to obtain health insurance and the reduction in the cost of health insurance for the spouse from whom maintenance is sought if the spouse from whom maintenance is sought is able to convert family health insurance to employee health insurance after the marriage is dissolved.
- All actual damages and judgments from conduct that results in criminal conviction of either spouse in which the other spouse or child was the victim.