Will I Owe Spousal Maintenance?
In the state of Arizona, spousal maintenance is determined by a two-part analysis of all relevant factors pertaining to the financial, academic, and career standing of both spouses. The first level of analysis determines the eligibility of both spouses to receive or give spousal maintenance. The second level then takes into consideration the assets and abilities of both spouses. This information is then used to determine how much spousal maintenance will be owed upon the dissolution of the marriage. Spousal maintenance can be a challenging hurdle in the divorce settlement process because it requires significant documentation of past, present, and current circumstances. Here are some things to consider as you discuss spousal maintenance with your attorney:
Part 1: Eligibility
Since every case is unique, a judge must consider these important factors in relation to the specific needs of the individuals to determine if either spouse is eligible for monetary support. To determine if you will owe spousal maintenance, your attorney and the courts of law will need to know:
1) If your spouse has reasonable living accommodations and other necessary property.
2) If your spouse's income and means of employment warrants self-sufficiency.
3) The duration of the marriage
4) The age of the spouse in relation to the time it would take to achieve academic and economic self-sufficiency.
Essentially, the courts must verify that both spouses are independently self-sufficient or able to become self-sufficient within a reasonable amount of time following the divorce. If your spouse is absolutely unable to provide for themselves due to an unequal division of assets, educational shortcomings, or demanding childcare obligations, they may be eligible for spousal maintenance.
Part 2: Considering All Relevant Factors
If your spouse is found eligible for spousal maintenance, the following factors are then assessed to fairly decide spousal support following the divorce:
1) The standard of living within the marriage
- Did you live above or below your means?
2) The duration of the marriage
- How much time was invested in the marriage?
3) Level of education, career experience, and earning potential
- Did either spouse quit past jobs to take care of children? Do they have enough education to return to the work force?
4) The physical, mental, and emotional condition of the spouse seeking support
- Does one spouse have significant health requirements that warrant spousal support?
5) The ability of the supporting spouse to meet their own needs while providing support to their former spouse
- Can one spouse adequately provide for themselves while partially providing for the other?
6) All contributions made by both parties to childcare and household income during the marriage
- Was the division of household labor, childcare, and income from earnings equal between spouses?
7) Any sacrifice of educational or career opportunities made by the spouse seeking support for the benefit of the other, their marriage, or their children
- Has one spouse's earning potential been reduced while the other spouse's has been advanced?
8) The ability of the spouse seeking support to obtain educational advancement and employment if necessary (with consideration of financial restrictions and time constraints)
- Is necessary educational training readily available? How much will it cost? How long will it take to complete the education and find adequate employment?
9) The extent to which both parties can contribute to children's education costs
- Will spousal maintenance be necessary to help one parent contribute?
10) Health insurance costs for both parties
- How much will new coverage cost? How much money will be saved in the reduction of the current health insurance plan?
11) An imbalance in financial assets or properties
- What debts have both spouses incurred independently? Does either spouse have hidden assets?
12) Any criminal convictions
- Were there any charges of domestic violence in which the spouse or child was a victim? What other damages were incurred?
Each case is substantially unique and requires an in-depth look at very personal matters. You can trust the experienced family law attorneys at Crider Law to work with you to establish a fair spousal maintenance agreement and ensure your needs are taken care of. Brad Crider is an expert on the complex division of assets and will work hard to create a fair divorce settlement for your individual circumstance. Call Crider Law today to set up an initial consultation.