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The Beginner’s Guide to Alimony in Arizona

The attorneys at GillespieShields practice family, employment, civil, criminal, probate, appellate, and immigration law.

When a married couple divorces, the court may award “alimony” or spousal support to one of the former spouses, based on an agreement reached between the couple or a decision made by the court. This is distinct from the division of marital property and is decided on an individual basis.

Many people are confused about alimony vs. child support. Alimony differs from child support payments in that child support funds can only be used for minor children while they are in the custody of the custodial parent. The following is an explanation of the fundamentals of alimony and spousal support.

What Is Alimony?

Alimony is intended to limit any unfavorable economic effects of a divorce by providing a continuing income to a non-wage-earning or lower-wage-earning spouse. Part of the justification is that an ex-spouse may have chosen to forego a career in order to support the family and now requires time to develop job skills in order to support themselves. Another goal could be to assist a spouse in maintaining the standard of living they had during their marriage despite changes in income, income tax, bonuses, taxable income, tax returns, and so on.

How the Amount of Alimony is Determined

In contrast to child support, which is mandated in most states based on very specific monetary guidelines, courts have broad discretion in determining whether to award spousal support and, if so, how much and for how long. The Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act, on which many states’ spousal support statutes are based, advises courts to consider the following factors when deciding on alimony awards:

  • The age, physical condition, emotional state, and financial condition of the former spouses;
  • The length of time the recipient would need for education or training to become self-sufficient;
  • The couple’s standard of living during the marriage;
  • The length of the marriage; and
  • The ability of the payer spouse to support the recipient and still support himself or herself.

Alimony and Support Orders

Although awards are difficult to predict, whether the payer spouse will comply with a support order is even more difficult. Child support enforcement has the “teeth” of a wage garnishment, liens, and other enforcement mechanisms, whereas alimony enforcement does not. However, the recipient could return to court in a contempt proceeding to force payment. Because alimony can be awarded through a court order, a former spouse who is owed alimony has access to the mechanisms available for enforcing any court order.

 

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How Long Must Alimony Be Paid?

Alimony is frequently referred to as “rehabilitative,” which means that it is only ordered for as long as it is necessary for the recipient spouse to receive training and become self-sufficient. If there is no spousal support termination date specified in the divorce decree, payments must continue until the court orders otherwise.

Most awards are forfeited if the recipient remarries. Termination isn’t always automatic; in cases where the recipient spouse is unlikely to find gainful employment, perhaps due to age or health concerns, the court may order that additional support be provided from the payer’s estate or life insurance proceeds.

Alimony Trends

Previously, most alimony awards were provided for payments to former wives from breadwinning ex-husbands. As society has changed so that most marriages now include two-wage earners, women are viewed as less dependent, and men are more likely to be primary caregivers, the courts and spousal support awards have evolved to keep up. The traditional model of men paying and women receiving spousal support is eroding, and alimony payments from ex-wife to ex-husband are on the rise.

Alimony trends are also shifting as a result of the United States. The Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges legalized same-sex marriage throughout the United States. This has resulted in alimony orders in same-sex divorce cases, in which partners with higher earnings must pay alimony to a dependent same-sex spouse.

SHOULD WOMEN PAY ALIMONY?

When a couple of divorces, one of the most common issues is money. That is why Arizona divorce lawyers devote so much of their time to assisting their clients with alimony issues.

In Arizona, alimony, also known as spousal maintenance, is intended to assist spouses who earn significantly less money in maintaining their current standard of living after divorce. Traditionally, men have been the ones to pay alimony. However, as more women hold higher-paying jobs, the question of whether women should pay alimony has become a hot topic. Arizona divorce attorneys, divorce court judges, and, of course, the couples involved can all see the issue from a variety of perspectives.

When a couple of divorces, one of the most common issues is money. That is why Arizona divorce lawyers devote so much of their time to assisting their clients with alimony issues.

In Arizona, alimony, also known as spousal maintenance, is intended to assist spouses who earn significantly less money in maintaining their current standard of living after divorce. Traditionally, men have been the ones to pay alimony. However, as more women hold higher-paying jobs, the question of whether women should pay alimony has become a hot topic. Arizona divorce attorneys, divorce court judges, and, of course, the couples involved can all see the issue from a variety of perspectives.

Men, on the other hand, have been paying alimony for years to former wives who gave up their careers to stay at home and raise children. Because the goal of alimony is to financially support someone who is unable to support themselves, it should make no difference whether that person is a man or a woman.

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 you’re 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, we’ll take the necessary time to answer and all of our questions surrounding Arizona’s family laws, your family’s unique situation, and the possible court outcomes. Contact us today for your consultation!

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The materials available on this website are for informational and entertainment purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem.  You should not act or refrain from acting on the basis of any content included in this site without seeking legal or other professional advice. The information presented on this website may not reflect the most current legal developments.  No action should be taken in reliance on the information contained on this website and we disclaim all liability in respect to actions taken or not taken based on any or all of the contents of this site to the fullest extent permitted by law.

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