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Alimony is also commonly referred to as maintenance in the state of Arizona. As a rule, Arizona courts consider alimony only when specific circumstances exist. These include when a spouse lacks property for self-support, has to take care of a child whose emotional or physical disabilities make employment difficult, when one spouse contributed to the education of the other, and instances where the marriage lasted a very long time and the spouse's age makes it difficult to find suitable employment.
In Arizona a support award can influence a property distribution, so maintenance can become a very intricate part of a divorce.
As is the case with property division, the court does not consider marital misconduct on the part of either party in awarding alimony. Adultery, for example, does not influence either the decision to award or withhold alimony, or its amount.
When the court deems alimony necessary, the law outlines what factors the court considers. Relevant considerations include, but are not limited to, how long the marriage lasted, standard of living achieved during the union, the age of the receiving spouse, and the contribution of the receiving spouse to the education, training or earning ability of the other.
Under Arizona's Revised Statute 25-319 (the spousal maintenance statute) courts must first decide whether alimony is necessary before ordering it. Arizona's statutory code provisions allow courts to order maintenance upon a showing of need by the spouse requesting support. The spouse requesting a support order must prove that he or she lacks assets or property to become self-sufficient and that he or she cannot find a job because of a lack of vocational training, skills or has significant child care responsibilities.
Someone may be eligible for alimony when the petitioning spouse is too old to reenter the workforce and earn a sufficient income to be self-supporting, particularly if the marriage lasted a long time, or if he or she is the custodial parent of young children, and is therefore unable to maintain employment. A spouse who was the primary wage earner so that his or her partner could continue higher education may receive maintenance for contributions to a spouse's education. Lastly, if the distribution of property was unequal, leaving one spouse without the means to support himself or herself, he or she may be eligible for maintenance.
Spousal maintenance is generally owed until a court believes that the recipient should be able to be financially self-supporting. However, alimony terminates earlier if either spouse dies or the recipient marries.
In Arizona alimony payments go through a clearinghouse that distributes them to the recipient unless another method of payment has previously been agreed upon or ordered by the court.
Types of Alimony
In Arizona courts typically award rehabilitative or temporary spousal maintenance, instead of permanent or continuing support. The goal of rehabilitative support is for the paying spouse to provide support until the receiving spouse can become self-sufficient.
Support normally ends when either party dies, after a specific amount of time, or at remarriage of the spouse receiving the maintenance payments.
Factors Considered by the Court
In Arizona the courts have discretion in the award of alimony. According to Arizona Statutes - Title 25 - Chapters: 319, 322, in awarding maintenance, the court considers:
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