Alimony is the former name for what’s now called spousal maintenance. Alimony is financial assistance that the court orders one spouse to provide another spouse when a marriage ends. One spouse must request spousal support for the court to issue an order compelling the payments. There are several factors that a court takes into account when determining alimony. The court first examines certain qualifying factors to determine if one spouse even can procure alimony and then and only then decides how much and for how long. There are no juries in Arizona family court, only a sitting judge. So whether you like it or not, one person, in a black robe, will someday make a big decision on how much and how long your ex-spouse may or may not be paid upon divorce.
The Need for Spousal Maintenance
The court first decides whether one spouse actually qualifies for spousal maintenance and whether the other has the means to pay, before ordering maintenance be paid. A spouse may request alimony if he or she does not have enough property after marital distribution to provide for oneself, or is somehow unable to find proper employment. If one spouse has significantly contributed financially to the other spouse’s education, then alimony can be requested by the spouse who contributed. The court will look at the other’s spouse’s financial situation as well. A divorce lawyer in Scottsdale can help you file an alimony petition.
Duration of Marriage Affects Alimony
The longer the separating couple has been married, the higher the chance for alimony for one spouse may be. Generally speaking, if married less than 5 years, procuring maintenance from the wealthier spouse can be a challenge, or impossible. Once one hits ten years or more, the ability to obtain maintenance for some period of time appears to jump significantly. If you have been married 30 years or more you can almost guarantee that someone is going to be paying spousal maintenance to the other.
The law of Arizona specifically states to take the duration of marriage into consideration when setting alimony. However, the law does not specify the ideal duration or a minimum duration. So even a spouse that was married for just a week can technically request alimony. As noted, however, marriages of short duration rarely qualify for a payout.
Can Alimony Be Granted to Unfaithful Spouses?
The short answer is yes. This is a common question for some divorcees. Understandably, a spouse may not want to pay alimony to another who has been unfaithful throughout the marriage. So, some spouses may prefer to have such spousal misconduct be a factor in determining alimony. However, in Arizona, divorce is not granted based on spousal misconduct. Arizona is a no fault jurisdiction. Thus, couples can file for divorce in Arizona without providing a reason. If one spouse contests the divorce, the other spouse only has to show to the court that the marriage is broken beyond repair. Marital misconduct is not legally relevant to the divorce proceedings, and therefore will not play a role in any alimony fight. Unfaithfulness on one side does not lead to automatically denying alimony for that spouse, nor does the court demand the cheating spouse to pay the other. The same applies for dissolution of covenant marriages. Long story short, while he or she may have cheated—he or she may still get paid by the Court depending on your income and length of marriage.
Prenup Roles in Alimony
A prenuptial agreement is an optional private contractual agreement that spouses enter into before marriage. When a couple divorces, a prenup is upheld for the most part if all provisions are in accordance with the law. If one spouse has agreed not to seek alimony in a prenup, the court will often uphold this in divorce proceedings. However, the court may rule otherwise if the spouse that needs alimony could end up in a welfare state without spousal maintenance. Arizona law allows courts to decline the validity of prenups if one spouse could end up in dire financial need following divorce.
Determining alimony is affected by many factors. Consult with a competent divorce lawyer to secure alimony as you desire, or to defend vigorously against paying it.