Written by Canterbury Law Group

What Is Spousal Maintenance?

What Is Spousal Maintenance

Spousal maintenance, alimony and spousal support are interchangeable terms describing money that a spouse has been ordered to pay to the other party following a divorce. Read on to learn more.

Spousal Maintenance, Alimony and Spousal Support

Alimony are the monies paid by one party to the other during or after the process of divorce. Once it was known only as alimony. Awarded following a court order, its purpose is to maintain living standards the parties became accustomed to during marriage – it is now more often than not referred to as spousal support or spousal maintenance.

Alimony (Temporary)

This is alimony for a specific time. For example, if the divorce causes a party suffering from financial hardship, temporary alimony may be awarded until the party suffering the economic hardship can recover from a financial standpoint. Temporary alimony differs on its length depending on the state or jurisdiction you reside in.

Alimony (Permanent)

This is alimony to be paid until the one making the payments passes away or the party receiving the payments decides to remarry. In some cases, remarriage does not prevent alimony from being paid. For example, if the recipient is unable to work because of disability, the courts may decide the alimony is to be ongoing even if they live with or get married to a third party. However, alimony is non-taxable to the recipient party.

Alimony (Rehabilatative)

This may be awarded when a spouse needs help with college expenses or job training so they may return to a career (or indeed, initiate a career) following the divorce process. Thus, allowing a formerly dependent spouse to obtain the skills needed to assist them in financial independence.  These maintenance awards can range from 1 to 5 years typically.

Other Considerations

Every state has its own laws regarding spousal maintenance (or however the state refers to it as) but it is worth keeping in mind that individual judges (not a jury) have the right to use their discretion in a judicial manner when they determine such issues. Often, they consider the following:

  • Will earning power of a party be adversely impacted because they have a child or children to raise.
  • The contribution in the role of a homemaker the party may have made in the career of the other spouse.
  • The physical, emotional and mental well-being and age of each party.
  • The earning potential of both parties.
  • The duration of the marriage.  Marriages under 7 years usually do not even qualify for alimony and marriages of 30 years or more can sometimes generate a lifetime alimony award.

Add in those factors and others they judge may consider all factor in to how much will have to be paid. It is always a smart idea to address spousal maintenance issues during the settlement for the divorce. This offers the judge less power and leaves control in the hands of the two parties concerned insofar it was privately  arranged.

In Arizona

In Arizona, when a party is seeking maintenance from the other one of four things must be proven for them to be awarded financial maintenance.

  • The length of marriage was such the party is too great an age to be expected to become self-funding or to be able to work.
  • As the custodian of a child or children at a young age, the party should not be expected to work, and the spouse contributed to the education of the other party.
  • Appropriate employment to become self-sufficient is not available to the party.
  • The party does not have sufficient property to meet their needs.

Source: Meyer, Cathy. “The Different Types of Alimony, Spousal Support, and Spousal Maintenance.” LiveAbout, LiveAbout, 11 Mar. 2018, www.liveabout.com/the-different-types-of-alimony-spousal-support-and-spousal-maintenance-1102807.

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*This information is not intended to be legal advice. Please contact Canterbury Law Group today to learn more about your personal legal needs.

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