Did you know that this is the most contested issue in family law cases? Did you know that court rulings on spousal maintenance vary more than any other issues in family law?
Many spouses assume if they have worked during marriage, they may not be entitled to spousal maintenance when in fact, they may have a well-grounded claim for spousal maintenance, otherwise known as alimony. Did you know that many people also assume that because they never worked, that they may be entitled to more than they actually are? This area is a “sticky wicket” and is the cause for great turmoil and litigation in many divorces. At McMurdie Law & Mediation, we do our best to give you ranges that are reasonable to help you settle this very litigious issue.
The award of spousal support is discretionary with the Court and depends on many factors that are specifically set out in A.R.S. 25-319 ( A-D). We recommend that you read these factors and see what really applies to you or your spouse. For short marriages of less than five years, generally alimony is questionable, but can be awarded and is often called “rehabilitative spousal support” to help the spouse “get on their feet.” Many awards do not acheive the “standard of living to which they had become accustomed.” While the length of marriage and the earnings of each spouse are important considerations, an award of spousal maintenance depends on the “reasonable needs” of the requesting spouse.
With mediation, spousal support can be agreed to as part of your negotiations. If both parties agree, the maintenance order or your final Decree of Dissolution of Marriage may state that your spousal support terms shall not be modified. At McMurdie Law & Mediation we sometimes encourage choosing non-modifiability because it gives certainty in the future and you know you can’t take it back to court.
Alimony is essentially a two-tiered analysis. The first issue is whether one spouse is entitled to spousal maintenance. If this is true, then the second issue is the amount and duration of the support.
No other area of the divorce process is more uncertain than spousal support. Judges often say that no two judges looking at the same set of facts will come up with the same alimony amount. To try to take some of the uncertainty out of calculating spousal support, the Arizona Bar did prepare guidelines many years ago, but these guidelines vary in their interpretation. Some consider them to be antiquated, and many find them greatly suspect in governing ranges because lives and ability to earn vary so much. These guidelines take into account your years of marriage and the difference between the parties’ incomes to calculate a “duration factor” that is a multiple for the spousal maintenance range.
A spouse may wonder if determining “fault” for the ending of the marriage can disqualify someone from receiving alimony. For example, a husband or wife might want to limit alimony for an unfaithful spouse. Although Arizona divorce laws allow for a discussion of each spouse’s conduct during the dissolution of a marriage pertinent to the effect on your estate’s value or the effect on the children, Arizona’s alimony factors do not specifically include a factor for marital misconduct or other fault grounds. It is far better to discuss this with a knowledgeable family law practitioner to determine a good faith range and then attempt in your best efforts to negotiate with your spouse through counsel before taking this risky issue to the court to determine. However, if you do that and you are still unsettled, then taking it to court is your final recourse and can often lead to successful results. We do what is best for our clients and will guide you with either full or limited scope representation.
Contact 480-777-5500 for a consultation and learn how WHYmediate can help you determine of spousal maintenance is applicable in your divorce and how we may negotiate favorable terms.
Daniel A – March 2015
WHY made my divorce quick, easy, and cheap! Cristi and her staff were amazing and so helpful. They made the process so easy for me. I will definitely use WHY again in the future and will refer my friends and family.
Connie B – August 2012
Cristi was my first choice when I needed an attorney for my divorce proceedings; She was fair & was able to look at both sides of the issues.