Spousal Maintenance Basics

A primary goal in awarding spousal maintenance is to assist in achieving independence for both parties and to require an effort toward independence by the party requesting maintenance. The controlling Arizona statute on spousal support is A.R.S. § 25-319 which involves a two-part analysis to determine the appropriateness of a maintenance award in any given family law case.

Step One.

An award of spousal maintenance is only available to a party when one (or more) of the following circumstances exists. The spouse seeking support:

  1. Lacks sufficient property, including property apportioned to the spouse, to provide for that spouse’s reasonable needs.
  2. Is unable to be self-sufficient through appropriate employment or is the custodian of a child whose age or condition is such that the custodian should not be required to seek employment outside the home or lacks earning ability in the labor market adequate to be self-sufficient.
  3. . . .
  4. Had a marriage of long duration and is of an age that may preclude the possibility of gaining employment adequate to be self-sufficient.

Step Two.

Once the court has determined that the spouse is eligible for maintenance under A.R.S. § 25–319 (A)(1), (2), or (4) above, the court examines all relevant factors in the case, along with the 13 factors listed below. None of these factors takes priority and none are given any particular weight in the court’s analysis.

“B. The maintenance order shall be in an amount and for a period of time as the court deems just, without regard to marital misconduct, and after considering all relevant factors, including:

  1. The standard of living established during the marriage.
  2. The duration of the marriage.
  3. The age, employment history, earning ability and physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance.
  4. The ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to meet that spouse’s needs while meeting those of the spouse seeking maintenance.
  5. The comparative financial resources of the spouses, including their comparative earning abilities in the labor market.
  6. The contribution of the spouse seeking maintenance to the earning ability of the other spouse.
  7. The extent to which the spouse seeking maintenance has reduced that spouse’s income or career opportunities for the benefit of the other spouse.
  8. The ability of both parties after the dissolution to contribute to the future educational costs of their mutual children.
  9. The financial resources of the party seeking maintenance, including marital property apportioned to that spouse, and that spouse’s ability to meet that spouse’s own needs independently.
  10. The time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment and whether such education or training is readily available.
  11. Excessive or abnormal expenditures, destruction, concealment or fraudulent disposition of community, joint tenancy and other property held in common.
  12. The cost for the spouse who is seeking maintenance to obtain health insurance and the reduction in the cost of health insurance for the spouse from whom maintenance is sought if the spouse from whom maintenance is sought is able to convert family health insurance to employee health insurance after the marriage is dissolved.
  13. All actual damages and judgments from conduct that results in criminal conviction of either spouse in which the other spouse or child was the victim.”

Be Prepared and Know Your Rights.

Be prepared to present sufficient and accurate documentation to the court in support of your request for spousal maintenance. If you are requesting support as part of your divorce settlement, providing financial information about your earnings and work history will be necessary. If you haven’t worked or worked only part-time, then you may be eligible for maintenance. When you are in need of spousal support or believe you should not be required to pay it, familiarize yourself with Arizona’s spousal maintenance statute. Protect your rights. Understand how the court will analyze the factors relevant to your circumstances.