The state of Arizona has very specific rules regarding the payment of alimony from one spouse to another. Alimony, also called spousal support or spousal maintenance is the requirement of one spouse to provide financial payments to the other for a period of time following a divorce. This type of spousal support is mandatory and even filing for bankruptcy will not release a person from their financial obligations with respect to alimony payments. However, in some cases, an ex-spouse will realize that they have not received their alimony payments as required under the court order of their divorce. Learn your legal rights regarding your alimony payments and how to ensure both your legal and financial rights remain protected.
The State of Arizona and Alimony Payments
The state of Arizona will require a higher-earner spouse to pay spousal maintenance or alimony to the other spouse following a divorce is there an established and demonstrable financial need made clear to the court. There are several reasons why a court would order alimony payments, however, not every divorce will include spousal support to be paid from one spouse to another. Certain factors often encourage a court to agree to alimony payments. Some of those factors include the following:
- The length of the marriage
- The education, age, health, and physical abilities of each spouse
- The standard of living that the spouses enjoyed when they were married to each other
- The recipient spouse’s education and work history that would allow them the ability to obtain employment (for example, stay at home parents may have a more difficult time entering and transitioning into the workforce and making a substantial wage)
- The ability of the paying spouse to actual make spousal support or alimony payments
- The financial health of both spouses and their financial needs
- The financial needs of the children from the marriage and the ability of each parent to take care of those financial needs (including extracurricular activities, physical, psychological or education needs)
- Any detrimental excessive spending, concealment, gambling, destruction of marital assets by one spouse
- Damages that result from the criminal conviction of one spouse
While there is no specific formula in the state of Arizona by which a court must calculate spousal support, it is important to note that both spouses should have a clear understanding of whether or not spousal support was awarded in their divorce case, the amount, and how long the alimony will continue. Consider visiting with an experienced family law attorney to ensure that your legal and financial rights are protected within all aspects of your divorce.
What To Do If You Stop Receiving Alimony Payments
The sooner you address the fact that your ex-spouse stopped paying alimony payments the easier it will be to handle the issue within a court of law. If your ex-spouse makes the decision to stop making court-required alimony payments to you, he or she has violated a court order and may be held in contempt of court. The specific consequences of failing to make alimony payments can include both civil and criminal penalties. In certain jurisdictions, the failure to pay spousal support can include a fine, the loss of a driver’s license, or even a jail sentence depending on the facts and circumstances of the case.
If you stop receiving your alimony payments, you should consider the following steps:
- Visit with an experienced attorney in order to ensure that your understanding of your divorce judgment and alimony payments is correct and that you are owed amounts by your spouse according to the divorce decree
- Take steps yourself, or have your attorney file documentation with the court that indicates you have not received your alimony payments as required under the law
- The court will likely issue a summons to your ex-spouse or another document in order to request their presence in court to discuss the issue of unpaid spousal maintenance
- The court will require that your spouse either pay the amount owed immediately or create a payment plan to repay the unpaid alimony amounts. It is important to note that if your spouse fails to pay alimony payments again in the future, the penalties and consequences may be much more severe.
- Make sure to visit with your attorney to ensure that your financial rights and legal rights remain protected throughout this process.
When Your Ex-Spouse Can Not Afford Alimony Payments
There are extenuating circumstances under which an ex-spouse simply can not afford to make court-ordered alimony payments. Medical issues, job losses, pay reductions, and other life events can interfere with a person’s ability to meet their financial obligations, including their court-ordered spousal support payments. In these cases, your ex-spouse may request that the court modify their financial obligations to pay spousal support. A person will have a significant burden to prove that their circumstances changed drastically enough that they simply can not meet the court’s order.
While certain life events may occur that will convince a court to modify an existing spousal support order, the court will not look kindly on a person who simply failed to make their payments and failed to proactively and immediately come to the court with their financial concerns as soon as possible. If your ex-spouse waited months or years, and only brings up the possibility of a modification of spousal support when you notify the court of the fact you have not receive alimony payments, the court may not allow a modification of alimony.
Other Reasons You May Have Not Received Your Alimony Payments
There are other reasons that you may have not received your alimony payments that are legally justifiable. There are certain circumstances under which a spouse will no longer owe alimony payments to the spouse.
The most common event is if a spouse makes the decision to remarry. In most cases, when a spouse remarries, the paying spouse has no continued legal obligation to make spousal support or alimony payments. However, in most cases, if a receiving spouse of alimony makes the decision to cohabitate with another person, the alimony payments should continue under the court order. Therefore, if you are cohabiting with another person and you fail to receive your alimony payments, your ex-spouse may be under the incorrect assumption that they no longer have a legal obligation to make their spousal support payments. Consider visiting with an experienced attorney in family law to help you with your next steps.
Legal Obligation Ends
Most divorce judgments that include alimony or spousal support obligations have a set period of time in which the alimony payments will occur. While it is possible, most alimony payment obligations end after a certain period of time. If you have not received your alimony payment, it may be due to the fact that the legal obligation of your ex-spouse has ended.
Modification of Court Order
If you have not received your alimony payments as expected it may be due to the fact that your ex-spouse has received a modification of spousal support from the court that either reduced their alimony payment obligation or eliminated it completely. You can find out if your ex-spouse received such a modification through the courts by contacting your local family court or visiting with your family law attorney.
Deadline To Collect Alimony Payments
In the state of Arizona, under Arizona Statute Section 25-553, there is a three-year statute of limitations for collecting alimony. This deadline (statute of limitations) means that a spouse only has three years to attempt to collect any unpaid alimony payments after which they lose their legal right to pursue justice and their compensation. However, it is important to note that the deadline starts at the end of the payment requirement.
For example, if you should have received alimony payments for 10 years from January 1, 2010, through January 1, 2020, and never received any payments, you have until January 1, 2023, to request from the court that all of the payments owed to you are paid. You have the ability to receive a judgment for the entire 10 years of unpaid spousal support. Additionally, it is important to note that this judgment will be non-dischargeable in bankruptcy. Therefore, if your ex-spouse makes the decision to file for bankruptcy, it will not impact your right to receive your full alimony payments.
Contact an Experienced Family Law Attorney
If you discover that you have not received your alimony payments from your ex-spouse as expected, you may have the legal right to pursue these unpaid amounts through the court. There are strict deadlines by which a spouse must present their request to the court or lose the legal right to do so permanently. If you believe you are owed back alimony payments, contact one of our experienced family law attorneys at My Modern Law in Scottsdale, Mesa, Peoria, or Phoenix, Arizona who can provide you with answers and ensure your legal rights remain protected. Contact us at (480) 470-7731 or online today.