Making a Successful Spousal Maintenance Claim in Arizona
Spousal maintenance is sometimes referred to as spousal support or alimony. In the state of Arizona, it is becoming more and more difficult to get spousal maintenance awards. When the awards are given, they tend to be smaller and shorter than they were in the past. Those who are going through a divorce and hoping that they will receive spousal maintenance will want to take steps that will help them to maximize the potential award.
Qualifying for Spousal Maintenance
In Arizona, you need to first qualify for spousal maintenance. It is not something that’s guaranteed for everyone who is divorced and seeks money from their former partner. There are five different ways that you can qualify for maintenance after a divorce or legal separation. You will need to meet one or more of the following:
- You do not have sufficient property to provide for your reasonable needs.
- You are unable to be self-sufficient through appropriate employment, or you have custody of a child whose condition or age would prevent you from working outside of the home.
- You have made a large contribution, financial or otherwise, to the training, education, vocational skills, career, or earning ability of the other spouse.
- You were in a long marriage and are at an age that could prevent you from gaining employment that is adequate to be self-sufficient.
- You have significantly reduced your income or career opportunities for the benefit of the other spouse.
An attorney will want to try to qualify you under as many of these criteria as possible when they apply. It makes more sense than trying to rest a case all on just one piece of qualifying information. Let’s look at some examples of how these would work.
To qualify under number 3, for example, you might have paid for the tuition or your spouse while they went to nursing school, or you might have taken care of the bills while they were undergoing training for their position. If you contributed to helping them to achieve their career, you could qualify for spousal maintenance.
To qualify under number 4, you might be at an age where it isn’t feasible to go to vocational school or to get another degree to eventually provide yourself with adequate employment to be self-sufficient.
Why Is It More Difficult to Get Spousal Maintenance Today?
You might have heard that spousal maintenance in Arizona doesn’t happen anymore. However, this is not true. What is true is that it’s a bit more difficult to get in a lot of cases. One of the big reasons for this is that there is a changing culture where more women are working and getting good jobs. They do not need to have support from their husbands when they are divorced because they have the means to get the training and education they need to get back on their feet and provide for themselves.
This means that in some cases, it can be more difficult to get spousal maintenance. When spousal maintenance is provided, it might not be for as many years as it was in the past. It might not be for as much money, as well. Of course, each case is unique.
Often, it seems that judges today are providing spousal maintenance as a rehabilitative award. This means that they will award maintenance for a certain period, such as two or three years. The spouse will receive maintenance during this period, but there is an end date. The money is meant to help the recipient to get back to where they should have been with their own career and finances. They are given the maintenance for a limited amount of time to encourage them to get to the point where they can care for themselves again.
Spousal maintenance is very rarely permanent today. In the vast majority of cases, people are expected to get themselves together to the point that they can take care of their financial needs without relying on their former spouse. If they haven’t worked in five or six years, they need to get back into the job market, so they can start to care for their own needs. The maintenance will only last a certain period, and it could be less than expected.
Spousal Maintenance Awards Are Difficult to Predict
We’ve touched on the qualifying factors. At least one of these will need to be met. However, this is where things can become somewhat nebulous. There are not always concrete definitions in the statutes as to what will constitute a long-term marriage, age or the person seeking maintenance, how much of a contribution needs to have been made to the education of the other spouse, etc.
This means that the attorneys will have to do a lot of legwork to get a better understanding of how to represent you in court to get a spousal maintenance award in Arizona. Attorneys will have a lot of questions that revolve around the five qualifiers discussed above. They need to get a better understanding of how you would qualify, and your current living standards.
A lot of times, particularly when both spouses are educated, they will come to an agreement and settle the case. However, that’s not always the way that it happens. All cases are different, and there aren’t always hard and fast rules. It’s hard to predict when someone may or may not get spousal maintenance. This is why it is so important to get together with an attorney that can provide the help you need.
Get in Touch with an Attorney
If you are going through a divorce and you aren’t sure what to do about spousal maintenance, you will want to speak with an attorney. Choose a lawyer in Arizona who has plenty of experience in the field and who can represent you and your best interests for the case. Keep in mind that if you are divorcing in a state outside of Arizona, the laws can differ.