Arizona Duration Of Marriage & Spousal Maintenance
With the divorce rate hovering somewhere around 50%, there’s a significant chance that many couples may need to deal with issues like child custody, child support, property division, and spousal maintenance. Spousal maintenance is also commonly referred to as spousal support and alimony. Many divorcing spouses aren’t too pleased with the prospect of paying their spouse a monthly sum after their marriage has ended. There are several factors the court will consider when determining if and how much spousal maintenance a spouse should be awarded in divorce. Whether you’re seeking support from your ex or trying to make sure your payments to your spouse after divorce won’t bankrupt you, our Arizona family law team can help. Call 480-263-1699 to schedule your free phone consultation today.
Types Of Spousal Maintenance
There are different types of spousal support in Arizona to meet different households’ needs. A spouse may be issued temporary spousal maintenance orders to financially support a spouse while the divorce is pending. Temporary support may also be ordered to help a spouse gain solid financial footing after the divorce. Temporary spousal support is also sometimes referred to as rehabilitative maintenance. Permanent spousal maintenance will only be ordered in limited circumstances.
Arizona Spousal Maintenance Factors
You can find Arizona’s spousal maintenance factors and other computation information in A.R.S. § 25-319. There are five reasons that an Arizona family law judge will award spousal maintenance. They are if the spouse seeking maintenance:
- Lacks sufficient property, including property apportioned to the spouse, to provide for that spouse’s reasonable needs.
- Lacks earning ability in the labor market that is adequate to be self-sufficient.
- Is the parent of a child whose age or condition is such that the parent should not be required to seek employment outside the home.
- Has made a significant financial or other contribution to the education, training, vocational skills, career or earning ability of the other spouse or has significantly reduced that spouse’s income or career opportunities for the benefit of the other spouse.
- Had a marriage of long duration and is of an age that may preclude the possibility of gaining employment adequate to be self-sufficient.
If any of these requirements are met, the court will review 13 other factors that can impact spousal maintenance. They are:
- The standard of living is established during the marriage.
- The lifestyle the couple enjoyed
- The duration of the marriage.
- How long the couple was married
- The age, employment history, earning ability, and physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance.
- If the spouse seeking support can feasibly earn an adequate living
- The ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to meet that spouse’s needs while meeting those of the spouse seeking maintenance.
- If being required to pay support will make that spouse unable to support their own needs
- The comparative financial resources of the spouses, including their comparative earning abilities in the labor market.
- Each spouse’s potential income and other resources
- The contribution of the spouse seeking maintenance to the earning ability of the other spouse.
- If one spouse helped the other advance in their career
- The extent to which the spouse seeking maintenance has reduced that spouse’s income or career opportunities for the benefit of the other spouse.
- If one spouse made sacrifices in their own career to support their spouse
- The ability of both parties after the dissolution to contribute to the future educational costs of their mutual children.
- Whether the parents can afford to pay for their children’s education
- 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.
- If the spouse seeking support can meet their own needs after property division
- 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.
- How long it would take the spouse seeking support to find suitable employment
- Excessive or abnormal expenditures, destruction, concealment or fraudulent disposition of community, joint tenancy and other property held in common.
- Marital waste
- 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 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.
- If one spouse will be paying reduced health insurance costs after the divorce
- All actual damages and judgments from conduct that resulted in criminal conviction of either spouse in which the other spouse or a child was the victim.
- Whether one spouse committed a crime against the other
It is more likely for support to be ordered in marriages of long duration because there has presumably been more opportunity for one spouse to make sacrifices and otherwise support their spouse’s career over their own. It is also unreasonable to expect a spouse who is near retirement age and has spent most of their life as a homemaker to re-enter the workforce. If you are unsure about whether or not your marriage would be considered long duration, call for your free consultation at 480-263-1699.
Factor 11 – Marital Waste
Being anything other than upfront and honest about finances in a divorce can come with serious consequences. Marital waste occurs when one spouse purposefully squanders marital funds and resources knowing that divorce is imminent. When one spouse commits marital waste, the other spouse should be compensated accordingly, either through property division or spousal maintenance. Examples of marital waste include:
- Spoiling or financially supporting an extramarital lover in the months leading up to divorce
- Blowing much more than the household’s typical budget on meals at restaurants, drinks at bars, etc.
- Spending several nights at the casino after being asked for the divorce
- Booking an expensive solo vacation knowing it will drain the family bank account
What Is Considered A “Long Duration” In Arizona?
The duration of a marriage can significantly impact how much spousal support is ordered, and how long it will be required to be paid. The chances of a spouse being awarded permanent spousal support are slim if the marriage wasn’t of long duration. That begs the question of what Arizona divorce courts consider a marriage of a long duration. Some states require that spouses be married a minimum number of years before either can pursue the other for spousal support, but Arizona is not one of them. Every family law judge is different, but a marriage of less than 10 years may be considered short-term in Arizona. If a marriage lasts somewhere between 10 and 15 years, this may be considered medium-term. A marriage of 15 years or longer is generally considered a marriage of a long duration in Arizona.
How Long Does Spousal Maintenance Last?
Just because a marriage is of long duration doesn’t mean that the spouse seeking support will receive spousal maintenance for the rest of their life. All of the factors described above will be used by the judge to calculate spousal maintenance. However, judges will typically order that spousal maintenance lasts around 30-50% of the length of the marriage. For example, if a couple is married for 10 years, a spouse seeking maintenance may be awarded support for 3-5 years. If a couple is married for 20 years, a spouse seeking maintenance may be ordered support for 6-10 years or may be issued permanent spousal maintenance. Someone who was married for 2 years might be issued a few months of spousal maintenance, or none at all. It all depends on the other factors specific to the couples getting divorced.
A spouse who receives support will need to be wary of remarriage if they want to keep receiving support payments. Regardless of the type of spousal support ordered, it will terminate if the recipient spouse remarries. If possible, that spouse should consider waiting until their spousal maintenance orders expire before remarrying. Contact an Arizona divorce lawyer for more information at 480-263-1699.
Experienced Arizona Family Lawyers For Spousal Support Issues & More
If you are going through a divorce after a marriage of a long duration, there is an increased chance that the court may order permanent spousal maintenance. The amount of overall money at stake in such a divorce could be much higher than for a marriage of a shorter duration. If other special factors are present, support could be both permanent and substantial. It’s crucial to have a skilled representation in these types of legal matters, or you could be left with an insufficient financial situation for years to come or even the rest of your life. Our Arizona family law team is experienced in several divorce-related issues, including determining a fair spousal maintenance outcome after a marriage of a long duration. AZ Family Law Lawyers can address your issues with promptness and expertise, reducing stress caused by family law issues as much as possible. Get started today with no risk or obligation by scheduling your free phone consultation- you can reach our office at 480-263-1699.
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