There is no Arizona law that states alimony will always be ordered when a couple divorces. Whether alimony will be paid, how much alimony will be paid, and for how long alimony will be paid are often among the most challenging and contested issues. This is one of the most complex areas of family law. Each situation can have drastically different results depending on the facts presented, the skill of the attorney, and the judge's discretion. It is important to work with a divorce lawyer who is a strong and skilled advocate when alimony is an issue.
Factors Courts Consider When Deciding Whether To Order Alimony
Arizona Revised Statute §25-319(A) contains a list of factors to help judges determine whether a party requesting support is eligible to receive alimony. Those factors include:
- The length of the marriage.
- Whether the spouse seeking support lacks the earning ability in the labor market adequate to be self sufficient.
- Whether the spouse has income or property sufficient to provide for her/his reasonable needs.
- Whether the spouse seeking support contributed to the educational opportunities of the other spouse.
- Whether the spouse asking for support is the custodian of a child whose age or condition is such that the custodian should not be required to seek employment outside the home.
The first decision is whether alimony should be awarded at all. If a judge deems that a spouse is eligible to receive alimony, then the judge will then determine the monthly amount and the duration of the alimony. Arizona Revised Statute §25-319(B) lists factors to help judges determine how much alimony should be awarded and for how long. The factors include:
- The standard of living established during the marriage.
- The duration of the marriage.
- The age, employment history, earning ability, and physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance.
- The ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to meet his/her own needs while meeting those of the spouse seeking maintenance.
- The comparative financial resources of the spouses, including their comparative earning abilities in the labor market.
- The contribution of the spouse seeking maintenance to the earning ability of the other spouse.
- The extent to which the spouse seeking maintenance has reduced his/her own income or career opportunities for the benefit of the other spouse.
- The ability of both parties after the divorce to contribute to the future educational costs of their mutual children.
- The financial resources of the party seeking maintenance, including the marital property apportioned to him/her, and that spouse's ability to meet his/her own needs independently.
- The time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment and whether such education or training is readily available.
- Excessive or abnormal expenditures, destruction, concealment or fraudulent disposition of community, joint tenancy, and other property held in common.
- The cost for the spouse who is seeking maintenance to obtain health insurance; and the reduction in the cost of health insurance for the spouse from whom maintenance is sought.
- All actual damages and judgments from contracts that results in criminal conviction or either spouse in which the other spouse or a child was a victim.
- All other factors that a court may deem relevant.
It is possible to reach an out-of-court settlement on the matter of alimony in an uncontested divorce. Mediation and collaborative law can be effective. When this is not an option and the judge is called upon to rule on the matter. However, even in an uncontested divorce, the settlement agreement will be reviewed by a judge to confirm that it is in accord with Arizona law.
Tax Implications of Alimony
For tax purposes, typically, the person paying alimony can deduct alimony payments from their income and the person receiving alimony must include the payments as income. In this way, the economic burden of paying alimony is reduced somewhat. A lump sum alimony payment, however, is usually not taxed as income to the receiver. The payment of alimony is usually terminated upon remarriage and may be modified, suspended, or terminated upon the cohabitation of the ex-spouse receiving alimony payments.
McKay Law is aggressive in its approach to advocate all of your alimony issues. Contact us now for an initial free consultation to learn more about the topic of alimony and how it may impact your own case.