Q: I am a stay-at-home mom and haven’t worked in 10 years. My husband is the CFO of his company, with a mid six-figure salary. Am I eligible for alimony in the event of a divorce? What about child support?
A: Alimony, or spousal maintenance as it is called in Arizona, is controlled by statute as to what the court must consider in making an award. Arizona also has a public policy, where the purpose of spousal maintenance is to be “rehabilitative.” This means that the award in meant to consider the timeframe to get you back into the workplace, so that you can be self-sufficient, if possible. Arizona law is also clear that just because one party makes more money than the other, spousal maintenance is not automatic. In reality spousal maintenance is one of the more complicated issue to correctly litigate, given the 17 different factors the court must consider, and the multitude of variables involved in determining an amount and duration of the award.
There are actually two “prongs” that Arizona courts use to determine spousal maintenance. The first prong must be satisfied before the Court gets into the determination as to the amount or duration; the second prong contains the factors that the court uses to determine the amount and duration of spousal maintenance.
To satisfy the first prong, the spouse seeking maintenance must meet any one of the following conditions: The spouse lacks sufficient property to account for their reasonable needs; is unable to be self-sufficient through appropriate employment; is the custodian of a young child and should not be required to seek employment; contributed to the educational opportunities of the other spouse; or was married a long time and is of an age that may preclude the possibility of gaining employment adequate to be self-sufficient.
Once this prong is satisfied, the court will then take a look at the factors which will help it in determining how much spousal maintenance the spouse should receive. These factors include: standard of living; the duration of the marriage; the age, employment history, earning ability and physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance;the financial wherewithal of the spouse providing maintenance to provide for himself and the other spouse; the comparative financial resources of both spouses; and the extent to which one spouse limited the earning ability of the other spouse during the marriage. This is the complicated part of the test, as there are many variables that can drastically change the amount or duration of an award. A change of a couple hundred dollars per month in a budget, could result in tens’ of thousands’ of dollars’ difference over the entire period spousal maintenance is paid.
From the basic information at this point it would appear that you most likely will be eligible for spousal maintenance, but an in-depth analysis of all of the statutory factors as well as consideration of the other property that will be or is being awarded to you would need to be done as well. Staying home to raise the children is a common reason for a spouse to receive spousal maintenance. However, every individual’s situation is different, so you should consult with an attorney to make sure you get what you deserve.Arizona is also a “no-fault” divorce state, which means that it also does not matter whether a spouse was unfaithful or who initiated the dissolution of marriage.
Keith Berkshire is a Certified Specialist in Family Law by the State Bar of Arizona, the head of the Family Law Department at the Rose Law Group, pc.,and can be contacted at 480-291-0736 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article does not constitute as legal advice nor does it create an attorney-client relationship. Keith Berkshire, Certified Family Law Specialist, Rose Law Group, pc. Rose Law Group pc is a full service and, real estate with 27 areas of focused practice including one of the State’s leading renewable energy practice groups; an unmatched lobbying, land use and zoning practice; one of the State’s few certified legal specialists in family law; a robust transaction, tax and project finance department; along with estate/special needs planning, asset protection, medical marijuana, equine law, employment law and high profile and business litigation among others; Rose Law Group is consistently involved in some of the State’s biggest and most important issues from representing County Sheriffs on Senate Bill 1070 litigation to revolutionizing the provision of distributed solar generation in Arizona and defending the State’s rights in litigation involving medical marijuana. Learn more at RoseLawGroup.com
* Laura Bianchi is head of RLG’s Estate Planning and Asset Protection Department. She focuses her practice on traditional estate, special needs, domestic partnership, and business succession planning, as well as general employment and medical marijuana law.
* Carissa Seidl practices in the areas of family law, juvenile law and criminal law at RLG.
* Keith Berkshire is one of only 70 Certified Specialist In Family Law, State Bar of Arizona and is well versed in all areas of family law, including appellate practice.