Peoria Spousal Support
Peoria Spousal Support Lawyer
When a couple divorces, spouses may elect to request spousal support, also known as spousal maintenance. It’s not always awarded, of course, but it can be an option for a lower-earning spouse who wants to ensure they can support themselves after the separation or divorce. This isn’t an ongoing payment that will be made forever.
It’s quite the opposite, in fact. This is supposed to be rehabilitative, which means eventually the maintenance will cease in most cases. The exception, of course, is in long-term marriages that lasted over 15 years. In these spousal support arrangements, longer terms can be requested and may be approved.
To make sure that you understand this part of a separation or divorce, it’s best to enlist the assistance of a Peoria spousal support lawyer. At Modern Law, we specialize in family law and divorce issues, including spousal maintenance.
To help you better understand what you’re up against, let’s look at some of the most common questions and concerns about spousal support in Arizona.
How is spousal support calculated in Arizona?
Arizona is a state where spousal support is allowed to be determined at the discretion of the judge, including whether it is ordered and how much the payments are. Unlike some states, this is not a guaranteed part of separation or divorce. Judges will consider a variety of factors to determine how much payments should be and for how long they should be made.
- One spouse’s ability to meet their own needs financially
- Inability to obtain employment due to childcare demands
- Inability to support oneself through a job
- Length of marriage and ages that may affect education or workforce re-entry
- The future earning potential of both parties
- The standard of living in the marriage
- The ages of both spouses
- Income disparities between the spouses
- Jobs and job-related skills
Is there a minimum length of time you must be married?
Arizona does not have a minimum length of marriage for those who are interested in filing for spousal maintenance. Obviously, the longer the marriage, the more entitled you would be to these payments and they might even be higher in value. However, the length of the marriage may also impact the terms of the spousal support agreement, including how long payments are made.
For example, while it’s rare to see those married for less than a year get maintenance orders, it may be granted for a month or two, but not much more. For someone married over 20 years, a term may be more like five to seven years, again depending on the circumstances.
Can spousal support be included in a prenup?
Typically, any language about spousal support, sometimes also known as alimony, is going to be prohibited from enforcement in a prenuptial agreement. Some couples don’t realize this and try to include it anyway, but ultimately the judge involved in the separation or divorce will determine whether the prenup terms and legality are agreeable or if they need to make a different maintenance order.
What you can include in a prenup regarding alimony is provisions for which spouse would be entitled to the payments, and under what circumstances. The amounts and final decisions will all be made by the courts.
Is spousal support different from child support?
Spousal support is completely separate from child support. The former is designed to provide financial assistance to a spouse so that they have time to figure out how to support themselves. This money can be used for bills, expenses, and keeping up their standard of living. On the other hand, child support is ordered based on the best interests of the child and to ensure that they are capable of enjoying a similar standard of living to the one when their parents were together.
Unlike child support that is automatically ordered, spousal support may or may not be ordered by a Peoria divorce court. If you have a preference one way or another, you should make sure that you enlist the assistance of a Peoria spousal support lawyer. That way, you can be sure that you’re not left with an agreement that you don’t like or that doesn’t work in your favor. When it comes to child support, what the court says, goes.
What happens if someone fails to pay spousal support?
There are several different penalties for nonpayment of spousal maintenance in Arizona, depending on the exact circumstances of why it wasn’t paid and what other factors are at play. Issues with nonpayment or delayed payments in the past can increase penalties for subsequent issues, too. In some cases, the spouse that didn’t pay may be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor. For this to happen, though, the following must be proved beyond reasonable doubt:
- There was a court-ordered spousal support order in place.
- The order directed the named defendant to pay support to the other spouse.
- The defendant was given proper notice of the order.
- The nonpayment was willful and/or intentional.
- The court order was disobeyed by the defendant.
A conviction could lead to up to six months in jail, or the court might allow the other spouse to file a petition to enforce maintenance payments, which will show that payments were not made. This can result in a money judgment, which essentially means the spousal maintenance that is in arrears will be collected or enforced in a few different ways:
- Property liens
- Appointment of Receiver
It’s best to make sure that payments are made promptly and that if an issue arises, the court is notified immediately so that the spouse is showing due diligence in keeping up their part of the agreement.
If you’re facing a spousal support situation in court or you’re worried that you’re not sure if you need maintenance, a Peoria spousal support lawyer can help you explore your circumstances and decide on the best course of action. Contact the Modern Law team to discuss your case and find out more about how spousal maintenance works in Arizona.