The Types Of Alimony In Arizona
The type of alimony award in Arizona is subject to where you are in your divorce process. Judges can award brief support throughout the divorce sometimes called pendente litemeaning its unsettled until the divorce is finalized. Judges are going to order pendente lite support when one spouse requires the others financial assistance for general living expenses and to otherwise stay financially steady throughout the divorce process. An award of brief support throughout the divorce does not ensure a post-divorce award down the road.
As the court enters a final judgment of your divorce, the judge is going to specify if support is going to continue. The judge can order a brief maintenance award, meaning financial support is going to continue for a fixed period of time following the divorce. When courts award brief, post-divorce, support, the intention is for the recipient spouse to utilize the brief financial maintenance to enhance job skills, acquire vital education requirements, and otherwise better set themselves up to be independent financially.
Temporary support enables the lesser-earning spouse time to get back on solid financial ground following the divorce, especially in cases in which the recipient spouse abandoned a job throughout the marriage for raising a family or to enhance the others career.
Even following a long marriage, the courts deem support as restorative, meaning down the road the recipient spouse needs to become financially independent.
Asking The Court To Reduce Or Modify Spousal Maintenance In Arizona
As life happens, the financial situation of the supporting spouse can change unexpectedly. When a significant financial change occurs, it may be necessary to file for a modification of an existing alimony order.Scheible, S. L. . Bankruptcy and the Modification of Support: Fresh Start, Head Start, or False Start. NCL Rev., 69, 577. Retrieved May 29, 2022, from Continue reading
Under Arizona law, a spousal maintenance order can be modified by the court if the change to the supporting spouses finances is deemed substantial and continuing. In other words, if a supporting spouse experiences a drastic decline in their financial resources and cannot define if or when that decline can be remedied, he or she may be eligible to have their payments modified.
Situations that often warrant modifications to spousal maintenance in Arizona:
- When a spouse who receives alimony remarries
- A serious medical emergency or illness
- The spouse receiving support becomes able to support him or herself
- A significant change in a financial situation
Please keep in mind that under Arizona law, there are circumstances where a court will not modify an existing order of spousal maintenance. One of those situations is when former spouses make an agreement during the negotiation stage, stating the award cannot be modified or terminated. As long as the original agreement was negotiated and agreed upon, a judge is unlikely to make a modification to the order because of a change that occurs.
Failure To Pay Spousal Maintenance In Arizona
If your ex-spouse isnt paying you the alimony that was ordered or agreed to, you have several ways to enforce the order, including:
- Suspending their driving, professional or recreational licenses until they pay
- Reporting the debt to credit reporting agencies
- Putting liens on their property
- Asking the court to seize their property
We are ready to take quick and decisive action to make sure your alimony is paid.
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Spousal Support Spousal Maintenance Or Alimony In Arizona
In Arizona, either spouse in a divorce can ask the court to issue an order for spousal maintenance. However, spousal maintenance or support will not be automatically awarded when it is requested. Instead, spousal maintenance will be issued in cases in which it is needed to help the lower-earning spouse to become financially independent by completing education or training.
Spousal maintenance is frequently ordered to last for a short period after a marriage ends. If a marriage lasted for 15 years or longer, it may be ordered for a longer period. If you believe that spousal maintenance might be at issue in your divorce, you might benefit from consulting with an experienced attorney at the Law Office of Daniel Hutto.
Termination Of Spousal Maintenance
Generally, under Arizona law, spousal maintenance terminates upon:
- the remarriage of the spouse receiving support
- the death of either spouse and/or
- the termination of the spousal maintenance term.
Although this is the default under Arizona law, in mediation, spouses may mutually agree to more or fewer termination factors. Sometimes, the creative terms developed in mediation regarding termination of support can make the difference between stalemate and full agreement. For example, a payor may agree to a longer duration than the payor believes is most fair, in exchange for an added termination factor that upon the recipient earning income of $60,000 or more per year, spousal maintenance will terminate.
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Has Made A Significant Financial Or Other Contribution To The Education Training Vocational Skills Career Or Earning Ability Of The Other Spouse
This eligibility criterion most commonly applies when one spouse supports the other while he or she obtains an advanced degree or other career training that ultimately enables higher earning capacity, conceptually similar to an investment in the other spouse. But it is not limited only to this scenario. It also could apply when a spouses contribution is intangible, like providing child care to enable the other spouse to work additional hours to achieve a promotion.
Alimony Lawyers In Phoenix Arizona
During divorce processes, it is important for separating spouses to maintain fiscal stability as they divide property and change living situations. Alimony is the court-ordered provision of spousal support to maintain financial stability after a divorce and is dependent on multiple individual case factors. Consultation with experienced Phoenix alimony attorneys at Schneider & Onofry, P.C. can reduce anxiety for divorcing parties who require financial support from their spouse.
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Factors The Court Considers When Determining Spousal Maintenance In Arizona
One of the surprising things about Arizona spousal maintenance laws is how subjective they are. There isnt a worksheet that applies to spousal maintenance cases which can be applied universally, like with child support orders.
In order to qualify for spousal maintenance, a spouse must prove one of these five factors:
How Does The Court Determine Spousal Maintenance
In some cases, spouses can resolve alimony issues through divorce mediation. In mediation, with the help of a third party, spouses may mutually agree to pay spousal support and the amount and duration, which is quicker and cheaper than going to court.
In cases where litigation is involved, the determination of eligibility is a two-step process.
Entitlement determines whether a spouse is entitled to or eligible to receive spousal maintenance. If a spouse satisfies at least one of the entitlement conditions, the inquiry moves to the second step. In a litigated case, the court only considers the spouses circumstances who is requesting spousal support.
An award of spousal maintenance is based on relevant circumstances to determine the amount and duration. There is no formula to determine the duration and the amount. It is determined on a case-by-case basis using factors that a judge must consider as part of the process.
Those factors are:
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Factors Courts Consider Before Awarding Spousal Maintenance
Once a judge has determined that a requesting spouse needs alimony, the amount and the duration must be set.
The following factors are considered before a judge will award spousal maintenance:
There is no standard formula for calculating the amount and duration of spousal maintenance in Arizona. Judges in Arizona take all the above-mentioned factors into consideration when making a determination. Judges have broad discretion while deciding award amounts, or whether to award anything at all in divorce proceedings. Morei, N. . Should Spousal Maintenance be Left Solely to Judges Discretion?. Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences, 5, 109.
It is important to note that couples can agree to a type, amount, and set a duration for alimony payments via an agreement, which would eliminate time spent waiting for a judge to evaluate conditions.
Has Significantly Reduced That Spouses Income Or Career Opportunities For The Benefit Of The Other Spouse
This subsection was added very recently, so it is less developed throughout Arizona law. It is easy to imagine application in cases where one spouse terminates his or her employment or foregoes career advancement for the benefit of a family. The idea is that this type of sacrifice disadvantages a spouse based, at least in part, on the expectation that the marriage will continue.
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How Do You Go About Modifying Spousal Support And Alimony
You will first need to check your spousal support order to check that the order has a non-modification clause, meaning the payments cant be changed. This protects your spouse from ever receiving lower payments, but you are protected from having to pay more if your income increases.
You can try to informally work out an agreement with your spouse before going to the court. If your spouse doesnt agree to a modification, your next step will be to file a request for a modification out of which the support was originally ordered. You will need to include documents that prove your change in income along with that request. Each of you will conduct discovery to learn more about each others financial situations, and present their arguments in a hearing in front of the judge. Many people choose to hire an attorney to represent them at a modification hearing.
Are You Looking For A Family Law Attorney You Can Trust
The attorneys at GillespieShields are well-versed in a variety of different legal fields, ranging from family law to civil suits, employment disputes, and probate cases. Although we specialize in several areas of practice, our greatest passion is family law. We believe in giving families peace of mind no matter their situation, and we fight hard to maintain that peace. Whether youre filing for dissolution or divorce, determining custody of your children, or thinking about adopting children, our experienced attorneys are here to help you every step of the way. During our private, one-on-one consultation, well take the necessary time to answer and all of our questions surrounding Arizonas family laws, your familys unique situation, and the possible court outcomes. Contact us today for your consultation!
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The Changing Landscape Of Spousal Maintenance Or Alimony In Arizona
There have been several changes over the years that have caused there to be different kinds of awards. In the past, men provided for their families while women stayed at home and cared for the children, and when the couple divorced, the women often needed help to get back into the workforce. Many women had never considered that they would need to work.
Nowadays women are often independent professionals who earn more than their husbands, who may be the ones staying at home watching the children. Because of the differences in situation and circumstance, there are more women paying spousal support to men than in the past.
Of course, there are also changes because of the Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage. In Arizona, the rules are still the same that the person making more may have to pay spousal support to the other partner after a divorce.
If you may be facing a separation or divorce, you should talk to an experienced family law attorney as soon as possible to get the information you need and protect yourself. The sooner you prepare yourself, the more advantageous your position will be when you start the proceedings. If your situation involves child custody, reach out to our team at BTL for help with your case.
Have Family Law Questions? We Can Help
Spousal Support Vs Child Support
Spousal maintenance is calculated separately from child support and is designed for different purposes. Spousal support is ordered when a spouse needs help to become self-supporting.
Child support is ordered to help to pay for a childs upbringing and is in the best interests of the child. While spousal support is discretionary, child support is not. All parents must contribute to raising their children.
Spouses who are ordered to pay spousal maintenance and child support must comply with the orders.
If a spouse fails to pay child support or spousal maintenance, he or she may face civil and criminal penalties.
Like child support, spousal maintenance cannot be discharged in bankruptcy.
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Deadline To Collect Alimony Payments
In the state of Arizona, under Arizona Statute Section 25-553, there is a three-year statute of limitations for collecting alimony. This deadline means that a spouse only has three years to attempt to collect any unpaid alimony payments after which they lose their legal right to pursue justice and their compensation. However, it is important to note that the deadline starts at the end of the payment requirement.For example, if you should have received alimony payments for 10 years from January 1, 2010, through January 1, 2020, and never received any payments, you have until January 1, 2023, to request from the court that all of the payments owed to you are paid. You have the ability to receive a judgment for the entire 10 years of unpaid spousal support. Additionally, it is important to note that this judgment will be non-dischargeable in bankruptcy. Therefore, if your ex-spouse makes the decision to file for bankruptcy, it will not impact your right to receive your full alimony payments.
How Is The Amount Of Alimony A Person Receives Calculated
If spouses are unable to reach a mutual agreement through divorce mediation, Arizona family court judges are responsible for calculating alimony. Arizona law provides judges with a list of computation factors to help determine alimony payments on a case-by-case basis. Factors include:
- The standard of living of each spouse during the marriage
- The age of each spouse and how long the marriage endured
- The relative financial resources of each spouse
- The comparative earning abilities of each spouse
- The requesting spouses contribution to the others earning ability
- The ability of each spouse to contribute to future child education costs
- The ability of each spouse to obtain health insurance
- The amount of time it may take the requesting spouse to obtain the education or skills training needed to become self-sufficient
- The existence of excessive spending by either spouse during the marriage
- The existence of property destruction or concealment by either spouse
- Any criminal convictions that exist for either spouse
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Am I Entitled To Spousal Support In Arizona
In most cases, the amount of spousal support a spouse may receive may not be sufficient to completely support her , it will often provide a reasonable supplement. The ex-wife will almost always need to find work to help support herself or to make up the difference. The spousal support may even provide enough of a cushion that the ex-wife can further her own education and work toward a profession of her own to better provide for herself. However, like any post-divorce support, it is rarely indefinite. Spousal support almost always ends when the spouse receiving support re-marries. Even if that does not occur, in most instances, spousal support will be for a definite period of time . A wise recipient of spousal support will look for ways to better improve her situation so that when the spousal support ends, the spouse has a way to support herself.
Not every case in Arizona will result in a spousal maintenance award. Whether a spouse is entitled to receive spousal support payments after a divorce depends on a number of different factors under Arizona law. When determining whether a party qualifies for spousal support, the family court judge must consider the following factors found in A.R.S.25-319:
1. Does one spouse lack sufficient property to care for that spouses reasonable needs
3. What contribution did the spouse seeking support make to the educational opportunities of the other spouse
1. What was the standard of living during the marriage
Settlement Agreements In Arizona
Once you have reached an agreement about all community property and earnings, it is important to execute a valid Settlement Agreement that can be enforced by the wife if she waived her rights to the wifes portion of these assets or derivative claims .
Both spouses should sign this document before one spouse leaves Arizona. If one party moves out of state before executing the settlement agreement and then tries to enforce their rights or settle later, there may not be enough evidence to prove who owned what during marriage and whether the wife waived her rights regarding those assets. This makes it imperative that the wife signs any such agreements before she leaves AZ because once the wife leaves the state, she will most likely be held to have waived her rights regarding the wifes portion of those assets.
The wife should also sign the settlement agreement before a notary public and obtain a signature guarantee card from the notary. This proves that the wife was knowledgeable about the contents of the agreement when she signed it, and the wife may be able to recover attorney fees if she has an attorney review this document before the wife signs it.
We hope youve enjoyed todays blog post! Did we miss any questions or important information? If so, please let us know in the comments below.
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