Alimony, also referred to as spousal support, is an allowance paid to a person by that person’s spouse or former spouse for maintenance, granted by a court upon a legal separation or a divorce or while action is pending. It’s designed to provide the lower-income spouse with money for living expenses over and above the money provided by child support, while they transition into being self-supporting. Alimony differs from child support in terms of how the determined amount is calculated. Child support is decided based on a simple mathematical calculation using guidelines published by the state, alimony is very much in the discretion of the judge.
There are several factors a judge considers when deciding whether to grant alimony. These differ from state to state, of course, but they usually involve things like the parties’ relative ability to earn money, both now and in the future; their respective age and health; the length of the marriage; the kind of property involved, and the conduct of the parties. In general, about the only time a judge will award alimony in most states is where one spouse has been economically dependent on the other spouse for most of their marriage.
To award spousal maintenance, a court must find that one spouse has financial need and the other has the ability to pay. An Arizona court may determine that need exists if one spouse:
- does not have enough property—even after the marital distribution—to provide for reasonable needs
- contributed to the other spouse’s educational opportunities, or
- is unable to be self-sufficient through appropriate employment.
Whether a spouse is able to be self-sufficient through employment requires the the judge to consider additional factors, including the current labor market and the spouse’s existing skills and experience. A spouse who is the custodian of a very young child or a disabled child may not be required to seek immediate employment outside the home due to the needs of the child.
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The professionals at Kent Lee Law represent individuals throughout Glendale and the surrounding communities of Maricopa County, Peoria, Arrowhead, El Mirage Glendale, Avondale, Buckeye, Surprise, Sun City, Sun City Grand, & Sun City West.
If you need legal representation pertaining to alimony cases, Kent Lee Law can help. Please feel free to call (623) 889-7760.