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 I have no idea where the other party lives?

You qualify under this section of service if the following has been completed:

1. You have filed a petition with the accompanying documents here in Arizona, AND
2. You do not know where the other party is, AND
3. You have tried all reasonable ways to find your spouse, including:
a. Mailed by certified mail to the spouse’s last known address
b. You have attempted to contact your spouse’s family, friends, and neighbors to retrieve an address
c. You have contacted your spouse’s place of employment
d. you have done additional research, such as reviewing the phone book, online directories, voter registration information; and
e. Considered hiring a professional detective or paid an online service attempt location for your spouse.

4. You are ready to testify under oath that you have tried all of these methods.

How do the vehicles get divided during my divorce?

Usually spouses have driven one vehicle and that is the one they want to keep. There may be an adjustment if one vehicle has a greater value than the other. For instance, if the truck has equity of $10,000 and the SUV has equity of $20,000, one person has $10,000 more value than the other. The truck spouse is due an additional $5,000 on his/her side of the ledger (the vehicles together equal $30,000 so each spouse should get a value of $15,000; the truck spouse only has $10,000 in value, so is due an additional $5,000)

What Happens to Debts During a Divorce?

Arizona Revised Statute 25-318 provides that debt incurred during the marriage is presumed to be community debt. Generally, the court divides debt equally. Debt incurred by a spouse before the marriage remains the separate debt of that spouse. The court may also order the parties to submit a debt distribution plan. This means that within thirty (30) days after receipt of a written request for information from a litigant (which includes the court name and case number), a creditor shall provide the balance and account status of any debts of either party or both spouses, identified by account number, for which the requesting spouse may be liable to the creditor.

What if My Spouse Does Not Allow Me to See My Children. Do I Still Need to Pay Child Support?

Yes, you will still have an obligation to pay child support. You have an obligation to continue to pay child support until a court orders that you may stop. It is common for parents to want to withhold child support if the other spouse is not abiding by the court-ordered parenting time, but courts frown upon either party not following the court’s orders.

You and Your Spouse Have a Parenting Schedule You Both Agree On. Can You Put It In Writing?

Yes. You can write and sign an agreement, as can be found in the Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure Rule 69, that will be valid in court. You can attach it to your joint parenting agreement or rewrite it into your final joint parenting agreement. It is valid, even if it is not filed with the court. it is a good idea to put it in writing during the pendency of the divorce, just so you have some certainty.

Can I Stop My Spouse From Dating When She Has the Kids?

No, as long as they are safe, there is not much you can do. You have the right to know who the children are spending time with and whether they are spending the night somewhere other than their home with the other parent. Be reasonable in these requests, but keep your children safe. You might want to know the person’s birth date and Social Security number so you can run a background check on him/her. You have a right to know your children are safe.

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