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Frequently Asked Questions About Spousal Maintenance

How is spousal maintenance paid?

It can be paid directly from one spouse to the other. Both parties should keep very accurate records of the payments. The court may order the payments to be made through the clearinghouse, administered by the state of Arizona. They keep track of payments for you. Failure to pay is more easily handled in the court if the payments go through the clearinghouse. Be aware that there is a lag time between the time payment is made and the time it is received if you go through the state.

When does spousal maintenance end? (A.R.S. ?25-327)

Spousal maintenance terminates upon the death or remarriage of the receiving spouse. This is called non-modifiable, but excludes these two situations. There will be a beginning date and an ending date for the payments if you negotiate it and if a court orders it.

Can spousal maintenance be modified?

Yes, under certain circumstances and depending upon how your decree or Property Settlement Agreement was drafted.

What if my spouse quits working in order to stop having to pay spousal maintenance?

A former spouse cannot avoid spousal maintenance or child support by voluntarily reducing or terminating his or her employment. The court has the discretion to attribute income to a spouse who voluntarily reduces his or her income and to require the paying spouse to pay spousal maintenance or child support in the former amount. The test is earning potential, not the actual earnings, if there was some kind of mischief.

What if my former spouse refuses to give me current financial information relating to support or changes in jobs? (A.R.S. ?25-513)

You may send a written request by certified mail to your former spouse?s employer or former employer requesting detailed information about all pay and benefits paid to your former spouse by the employer. You may also file a Petition for Order to Show Cause or Request For Expedited Hearing, requiring your spouse to provide you with the relevant information and to keep you apprised of his or her current employer?s address. You should consult with an attorney.

Is spousal maintenance taxable?

Check with your accountant, but in general, spousal maintenance is taxable to receiver and tax-deductible to the payor.

Is spousal maintenance considered my salary for child support calculations?

Yes.

Can either a husband or a wife receive spousal maintenance?

Yes.

Can I waive my spousal maintenance?

Yes.

Does it matter how many children we have?

No.

Am I entitled to live the same as I did when we were married?

No. The style to which you have been accustomed is not the standard.

What if my husband had a really good job and now is unemployed?

It depends. If he cannot find employment, you may not be entitled to any spousal maintenance. You will have to investigate the reasons for the unemployment.

What if my husband has quit his job on purpose to avoid paying me?

If you can prove it, the court will consider the earning potential, not necessarily what he is actually earning. You would want to get his work records through discovery to find out if he quit, was fired, or was laid off.

Spousal Maintenance

 

Spousal maintenance was formerly called alimony. There seem to be more misconceptions about spousal maintenance than almost any other area of divorce. You may have heard that you will get spousal maintenance because your spouse makes more money, but it is not that simple. Spousal maintenance can be highly discretionary, depending on the judge. In fact, it is often a mystery as to how spousal maintenance has been determined, seemingly very dependent on the court.

There is a statute to follow, but it is very factual and case-specifically dependent. That may be why it is hard to pinpoint rules and outcomes with any certainty. Spousal maintenance is most common in long-term marriages of 20 years or more, where one spouse has been a stay-at-home parent who never worked outside the home and has limited job skills and prospects, compared to the working spouse.

Specifically, the court first determines any one of the following: the spouse lacks sufficient property to provide for reasonable needs; the spouse is unable to be self-sufficient through appropriate employment (that is, ?who takes care of whom? if age or condition precludes the spouse from working); the spouse contributed to the education of the other; or the marriage was of long duration and the spouse may be too old to be employed and self-sufficient.

Once the court determines that any of these factors are met, there are 13 other factors that the court may use in order to determine how much and how long maintenance should be paid. Even though there are 13 factors, often the court and the attorneys use a ?spousal maintenance guideline? calculation. We share this calculation with you in Chapter 7. While not a set rule, these guidelines are a starting point for negotiations. If you go to court on this issue, the outcome is anyone?s guess.

What if my spouse will not give me current financial information relating to his change in jobs from Scottsdale to Flagstaff?

You may send a written request by certified mail to your former spouse’s employer or former employer requesting detailed information about all pay and benefits paid to your former spouse by the employer. You may also file a Petition for Order to Show Cause or Request for Expedited Hearing, requiring your spouse to provide you with relevant information and to keep you apprised of his or her current employer’s address. You should consult with an Arizona attorney.

What will the courts do here in Arizona if my spouse quits working in order to stop having to pay spousal maintenance?

A former spouse cannot avoid spousal maintenance or child support by voluntarily reducing or terminating his or her employment. The court has the discretion to attribute income to a spouse who voluntarily reduces his or her income and to require the paying spouse to pay spousal maintenance or child support in the former amount. The test is earning potential, not the actual earnings, if there was some kind of mischief.

When does spousal maintenance end in Arizona?

Spousal maintenance terminates upon the death or remarriage of the receiving spouse. This is called non-modifiable, but excludes these two situations. There will be a beginning date and an ending date for the payments if you negotiate it and if a court orders it.

In Arizona, how is spousal support paid?

Here in Arizona there are several options. It can be paid directly from one spouse to the other. Both parties should keep very accurate records of the payments. The court may order the payments to be made through the clearinghouse, administered by the state of Arizona. They keep track of payments for you. Failure to pay is more easily handled in the court if the payments go through the clearinghouse. Be aware that there is a lag time between the time the payment is made and the time it is received if you go through the state.

What is alimony?

Here in Arizona, spousal maintenance (formerly known as alimony) is a monthly payment from one spouse to another, which is designed to allow for the spouse who earns less income to establish a home and living environment on his/her own. Spousal maintenance is used for an easier transition to becoming a single person in certain circumstances. Spousal maintenance will not last forever; it is designed to help a person get on his/her feet.

What is a Wage Assignment?

A “wage assignment” is now required for the payment of child support, and in some cases, for the payment of spousal maintenance (alimony). An assignment requires an employer or other payor (either a person or company) of a parent who is obligated by court order to pay a certain amount of child support each month to withhold that amount from the wages or money owed to the parent (employee) and to send that amount directly to the clearinghouse. This type of assignment applies to salary, wages, commissions and any type of payments received by the parent ordered to pay support. Either the person required to pay support or the person entitled to receive it can request an assignment order (A.R.S. 25-323 and 12-2454).

What is a Child Support Worksheet and How is Child Support Determined?

The second required document is a child support worksheet. Within this form, there are various boxes to input information such as your income and parenting time with the children. There are other factors that are also taken into consideration in determining this amount. The Child Support Worksheet will calculate who pays child support and how much mother or father shall pay in child support. Although you are able to access this form on the court’s website, we have provided this worksheet on our website for you to download. Please be advised that the court’s final determination may differ from your generated worksheet, but the worksheet should give you an idea of how much child support you will have to pay.

There are two huge factors that determine a child support obligation: each parent’s gross wages and each parent’s parenting time with the child. On the other hand, there are other factors that will give a parent “credit” on his or her side of the child support worksheet. These factors include whether either parent has another child from a previous marriage, has health insurance, pays spousal maintenance or child support or pays daycare expenses, among others.

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