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How alimony works in Arizona

Alimony, also commonly called spousal support or maintenance, probably numbers among the divorce issues with the greatest number of misconceptions attached to it. You may have heard a variety of myths from your friends and family. Getting reliable information, however, is key to formulating realistic goals and making the right decisions for you.

This general outline provides a good starting point. However, for specific advice, it is in your best interest to consult with a qualified attorney who can apply the correct legal principles to your individual situation. Your attorney can also advise you as to other important divorce matters, including custody and property division.

Either spouse can receive support

In many families, one spouse concentrates on developing a career while the other lets his or her professional development take a back seat to run the household and raise the children. As a result, at the time of the divorce, this spouse is earning nothing or significantly less than the career spouse. Although historically and even now, while the lesser-earning spouse is most often the wife, spousal support in Arizona is not gender-based. The circumstances dictate whether support is appropriate, not the gender.

Eligibility

Before awarding a support amount, Arizona courts first examine whether the requesting spouse qualifies for alimony in the first place. Relevant factors include how long the marriage lasted, the realistic prospects of the spouse finding employment with adequate pay, childcare responsibilities that may prevent the spouse from maintaining employment, and the level of the requesting spouse's contributions to the household during the marriage.

Setting payment amounts

If the judge finds support would be appropriate, he or she then proceeds to set the amount and duration based on Arizona's statutory factors. It is becoming increasingly uncommon to see indefinite alimony. Instead, the general approach is to figure out what the requesting spouse would need to ease the transition and begin earning a sufficient income. The exception would only occur if there is no realistic prospect of the spouse being able to ever do this due to factors such as age or disability.

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