Spousal Support & Alimony Phoenix

Spousal support, also known as alimony or spousal maintenance, is court-ordered support paid by one spouse to the other spouse or former spouse in the divorce or legal separation.  The purpose of alimony is to avoid unfair economic consequences of divorce. The details of awarding spousal maintenance may be difficult for you, as establishing the need for and an amount of spousal maintenance can be one of the more complicated and challenging aspects of your divorce case. You need to have a solid understanding of how the courts make decisions about whether to award or not award spousal support.

Spousal maintenance is determined through the court by taking into account a number of financial and work-related issues pertaining to both parties. Depending on the length of the marriage, the parties’ income levels, and work history, the court may (or may not) decide to include maintenance as part of the divorce settlement. To understand the support analysis, you need to review A.R.S. § 25-319 which is the controlling Arizona statute over spousal maintenance, and speak with an experienced Phoenix spousal support attorney.

Awarding Spousal Maintenance and Support in Phoenix

Arizona is a “no fault” divorce state and the court cannot consider any acts of marital misconduct when deciding whether to award, or not to award, spousal maintenance. Whatever fault there may have been is not a factor in awarding alimony money. Which spouse initiated the divorce has no bearing on the court’s decision to award spousal maintenance either. The applicable statute, A.R.S. § 25-319 involves a two-part test to determine the appropriateness of a spousal maintenance award under the unique circumstances of each case. Read spousal maintenance details for a complete analysis of all factors.

Arizona Spousal Maintenance Agreements

As you can see, there are many factors the court must take into consideration when making a spousal maintenance determination. Thus, the parties are encouraged to come to agreement on matters of spousal maintenance. Mediation and negotiation during the divorce process can help the parties resolve their support issues. The parties can agree on a spouse’s right to receive support, the duration of support, the amount of support, if the amount can be modified or not, when support will terminate or the event upon which it will terminate.

When all things are considered, it is often better for the spouses to negotiate their property and spousal maintenance awards between themselves, rather than leave those matters to the broad discretion of the court.

Spousal maintenance can be paid in a lump sum of money or be made in payments spread out over a specified period of time. The support may be in the form of a title transfer, or possession or interest in certain personal property, or possession or security interest in real property.

The court maintains continuing jurisdiction over spousal maintenance for the entire time it is awarded. The maintenance award may be modified when there is a substantial change in circumstances after the original order was issued. As when the paying spouse (obligor) experiences a reduction in income, perhaps because of an injury or job loss. When spousal maintenance is modifiable, either party has the right to ask that the court change the amount. The parties may have agreed, however, that the maintenance order will not be modifiable. In that case, non-modification of maintenance would be stated in the court’s order and final decree.

Once awarded, spousal maintenance is enforced across Arizona. In addition to civil remedies available for nonpayment of support, like wage garnishment, under A.R.S. § 25-511.01 when the noncompliant obligor has notice of the maintenance order, he or she can be convicted of a class 1 misdemeanor for having willfully and without lawful excuse failed to comply with the court’s support order.



Termination of Spousal Maintenance – How Do You Stop Alimony Payments? 

Spousal maintenance ordinarily terminates when the recipient remarries or dies. Maintenance may terminate on a specific date, if it is scheduled to continue for a definite period. It may also terminate with the recipient’s continuous romantic cohabitation with another. The court may require that a life insurance policy be purchased to guarantee that maintenance payments continue for the entire ordered period, even if the obligor is deceased.

Tax Considerations

With spousal maintenance, the income tax obligation shifts from the paying spouse to the receiving spouse. The supporting taxpayer may deduct the money paid for spousal support, or alimony. The spouse or former spouse receiving the alimony must include it as income on his or her tax return. For further tax information, we recommend you consult with your independent tax advisor.

Common Arizona Spousal Support Questions

How long do you have to pay spousal support in Arizona?

Determining the duration and amount of spousal maintenance is complicated. Some of the variables considered would be:

  • Length of marriage
  • History of excessive spending, concealment, or fraudulent disposition of joint property
  • Both spouses’ combined ability to finance future educational costs for their children
  • Age, employment history, earning power, physical condition, and mental condition
  • Personal financial resources and property – this includes any business or business assets either party owns
  • Health insurance costs
  • Standard of living

Is spousal support mandatory in Arizona?

No. A spouse requesting alimony in Arizona must first establish that they are eligible for alimony.

Who gets the house in a divorce in Arizona?

Arizona is a community property state. All of the assets and property acquired over the course of the marriage are joint. A house bought during the marriage will belong to both spouses. An agreement must eventually be made between the parties how to divide the value of the house in a divorce.

How long is alimony paid in Arizona?

Although it can be completely up to the judge or presiding official, one commonly used standard for alimony duration is that for every 3 years of marriage, 1 year of alimony is paid.  That is a ballpark, and should not be ready as exactly what you’d be awarded upon petitioning for Alimony.

Read Other Spousal Maintenance FAQs Here

What Our Clients Have to Say:

“Certainly no one wants to go through a divorce, but I am so grateful to my attorney, Robert Howard and the rest of the team at Stewart Law Group for their care, support, and professional legal work in resolving my case. From the very beginning, I was provided with resources that educated me about the process, protecting my interests, and relieving a great deal of fear and anxiety. I received sound advice at every step, and communication was great! I would recommend Robert Howard and the Stewart Law Group to anyone who finds themselves faced with the end of their marriage.”

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Contact Us

Whatever your question may be, the “near me” family law attorneys at Stewart Law Group are here to help. Serving Maricopa County, Pinal County, and all of Arizona, we invite you to call our office to speak with a Phoenix spousal support attorney today at 602-548-3400.

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