Divorcing An Unemployed Husband Or Wife

Legal Implications Of Divorcing An Unemployed Spouse In Arizona

Prolonged unemployment of one or both spouses in a marriage can put a strain on their relationship. It may not be the sole cause for you considering divorce, but it may be a contributing factor. Regardless, there may be special considerations in your divorce if one of you is employed and the other isn’t. Arizona is a community property state, so this could highly impact court orders after a legal dissolution of marriage.

Legal Implications Of Divorcing An Unemployed Spouse In Arizona

An Explanation Of Community Property

Many states use equitable division, but Arizona is one of the states that uses community property laws for property division in a divorce. The main theory of community property is that everything acquired during a marriage should be split evenly between the spouses in a divorce. This recognizes spouses’ non-financial contributions to a marriage. Any property that was owned by one spouse alone before the marriage will be separate property, as will any property acquired through gift or inheritance. Assets can also become commingled when community property funds are used to update and maintain a separate property asset, and vice versa.

It’s not just bank accounts, cars, and houses that must be split during property division. Both spouses can be held liable for debts either spouse incurs during the marriage. One of the most difficult types of assets to split in a divorce are retirement accounts. These must be split using a QDRO, or a Qualified Domestic Relations Order. Because of the complexity associated with QDROs, you should retain a family law attorney if you have retirement accounts to split in your divorce.

Spousal Maintenance (Alimony)

Spousal maintenance is also commonly referred to as spousal support or alimony. You may be ordered to pay your spouse maintenance after a divorce, especially if that spouse is unemployed. This is just one of several factors the court will consider when determining whether or not to order spousal maintenance in a divorce. The court will also look at the length of the marriage, as well as the standard of living during the marriage. The spouse’s ages, and the potential for the non-working spouse to educate and train for a new career will be taken into consideration. The court may also look at whether one spouse made sacrifices in their career for the sake of their spouse’s. If you are concerned about your spousal maintenance implications in a divorce, you should consult with an Arizona family law attorney.

Child Custody & Support

If you and your spouse share minor children, their custody and support will be an important part of your divorce. Your spouse’s short term or long term unemployment will come into play here.

All child custody decisions are made with the child’s best interests as the top priority in the family law system. The court generally prefers to place any minor children with each parent as equally as possible, but will deviate from this preference for many reasons. If one spouse has been a stay at home parent and the children’s primary caregiver, this could factor into custody determinations. However, there are several other factors the court will consider. Each parent’s relationship with the child, as well as the child’s relationship with other members of each household, could affect custody orders. If one parent has health problems or other issues that make it impossible to care for a child, the court must take this into consideration. Once the child reaches a certain age, usually around 12 years old, the child’s wishes will be taken into account as well.

The amount of time each parent has with the child or children will be one of the factors into how much child support is paid. The other main factor is each parent’s income. If one parent is unemployed and has most of the parenting time with the child, the other parent will likely be ordered to pay a significant amount of child support. If the wage-earning parent also receives the majority of child custody, there may not be any support ordered to be paid. A Tucson family law attorney may be able to give you a better idea of how much support will be ordered in your situation during a consultation.

Support Payment Modifications & Arrears

It’s extremely important that you remain up to date on all of your support payments after the divorce. Once support payments are due, there is nothing that can be done about them- they can’t be reduced or discharged in bankruptcy. Your wages could even be garnished for past-due support, and at a much higher rate than most debts. While standard debts can garnish between 15-25% of your wages, your wages can be garnished up to 65% in Arizona for back support payments.

If you experience a reduction in income, you should request a modification so that you don’t build up a balance in arrears. Except for emergency custody situations, a modification can only be granted after 12 months have elapsed. There must have been a substantial and continuing change in circumstances for the modification to be granted.

Should I Hire An Arizona Divorce Attorney?

If you are filing for divorce from an unemployed spouse, you are probably already worried about how much the divorce and ensuing support payments will cost you. Proceeding pro se, or self represented, may seem like a reasonable way to cut expenses. However, this could end up costing you far more in the long run. Divorce attorney costs are one of the expenses that a spouse can request payment for in a divorce. An unemployed spouse may be able to retain a high quality Phoenix family law attorney for the divorce under the promise of compensation from your pocket. It may be unwise to file or respond to a divorce without adequate representation when you stand the risk of financial loss.

Contact Experienced Family Law Lawyers In Tucson, AZ

Don’t let all of this intimidate you- the family law system can be overwhelming, but an experienced Arizona divorce attorney can help guide you through the process. Hiring this kind of quality representation may be more affordable than you think. To learn more about our Arizona family law attorneys’ experience and affordable payment plans, call or use our online form to schedule your free consultation today.



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