Divorce is expensive, because instead of sharing expenses for one household (for two-income families) you will have to each pay for separate homes. For one-income households where one spouse stays at home, a divorce can be a real problem because one spouse has no income at all. Even when both spouses work but one spouse earns significantly more, the lower-income earner may have difficulty adjusting to a different lifestyle. This is where alimony, called spousal maintenance in Arizona, comes into play.
In Phoenix, a judge may order the income-earner or higher-income spouse to pay spousal maintenance to the other spouse upon separation for living expenses. This is a temporary award, called pendente lite because it is only in force until the final divorce decree comes through. After that, spousal maintenance becomes a matter for the court’s discretion upon application by the receiving spouse and on a case-to-case basis.
Depending on circumstances, the judge may require continued spousal maintenance for a period of time. If the spouse receiving alimony is able to find employment with the appropriate training, the judge may order a certain monthly payment for a reasonable period after which the ex-spouse is expected to find employment and become self-sufficient. The court may also consider awarding spousal maintenance if the petitioner supported the higher-earning spouse during his or her education which paved the way to a lucrative profession.
Spousal maintenance in Arizona is seldom a permanent order. In some cases, the non- or low-earning spouse may be unable to get employment because of age, disability, or the need to care for a disabled child or elderly parent. However, even under these circumstances, spousal maintenance is only awarded if the marriage lasted at least ten years.
Alimony is typically frowned upon as an undesirable part of divorce, but in some instances it is called for. An Arizona divorce lawyer will make sure that the client’s rights are protected when it comes to spousal maintenance.