Alimony/Spousal Support in the East Valley

PracticeArea9 v2Alimony is another word for spousal support. In Arizona, an award of spousal support is governed by statute, ARS 25-319. Not everyone who is divorcing is eligible for spousal support. An award of support is based on a number of factors, including but not limited to:

  • The length of the marriage. Usually a marriage of short duration (under 5 years) will not be eligible for spousal support.
  • The difference in earning abilities of the spouses. If there is a great difference in incomes, the court is more inclined to grant spousal support.
  • The needs of one spouse and the ability of the other spouse to pay support and still meet his/her needs.
  • Whether the spouse requesting support is capable of meeting his or her reasonable needs through appropriate employment.
  • The age of the spouse requesting support and whether the marriage was of long duration. (A 55 year old spouse who has not worked and has been married 23 years would likely be eligible for a lifelong award of spousal support.)
  • Whether one party contributed to the educational opportunities of the other spouse.
  • If a spouse lacks sufficient property including that awarded in the divorce to provide for his/her reasonable needs.

Once it is determined that a spouse is eligible for an award of spousal support, the next step is to determine the amount and duration of the support. In general, the court will look at how much the requesting spouse needs to support him/herself after taking into account their own earnings. This is subjective and can best be addressed by creating a budget showing the anticipated living expenses. In addition to living expenses, expenses can include the cost for health and car insurance, and the tax on spousal support. (Spousal support is taxable to the person receiving support, and tax deductible to the paying spouse.) The requesting spouse’s expenses will be balanced against the paying spouse’s ability to pay the support and the paying spouse’s expenses. There is no longer a formula to determine the amount and duration of spousal support. There was a formula of sorts, but it was abandoned in late 2009. Now the amount and duration is looked at by the courts based on the facts of the case.

Spousal support automatically terminates on the death of either spouse or the remarriage of the spouse receiving support. However, if the decree of dissolution specifically states that spousal support will continue even if the receiving spouse remarries, the spousal support can continue after remarriage.

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