Spousal support is not an automatic part of divorce. This may concern you, or it may provide relief, depending on your circumstances. Whether you are hoping to receive alimony or fighting to avoid it, having a general understanding of how a spouse may qualify for support is the first step toward your goals.
When an Arizona family court judge rules in favor of alimony, it is usually because there is a discrepancy between the financial statuses of the divorcing spouses. If you earn considerably more than your spouse, you will have to face the fact that your divorce order may include an obligation for you to provide support. If you earn considerably less than your spouse, you may have cause to pursue a fair amount of support in your divorce order.
How much is fair?
The court will take several factors into consideration when determining a fair amount of spousal support. Most states have a formula that provides a guide for judges who are calculating alimony amounts for divorcing couples. Typically, the factors included in that calculation are the following:
- How long have you and your spouse been married? Generally, a longer marriage may result in more alimony paid for a longer period of time.
- Does one spouse need financial support from the other? If both of you are earning a comparable salary, alimony may not be necessary.
- Does the higher earning spouse have the ability to provide support? If paying spousal support will be a financial hardship, the judge may rule against it.
- What standard of living are the spouses used to? Generally, spousal support will allow the receiving spouse to remain as close as possible to the lifestyle to which he or she was accustomed during the marriage.
- Is the lower-earning spouse able to find work and eventually become self-sufficient? If the lower-earning spouse is near retirement age, in poor health or has been out of the workforce for decades, a judge may rule in favor of significant support.
In most cases, spousal support is temporary. It may include a deadline for the receiving spouse to obtain jobs skills, look for gainful employment or find other ways to become self-supporting. However, in some cases, a judge may assign spousal support indefinitely. In this case, you would be wise to include insurance policies in your divorce order in case the paying spouse has a disability or dies and can no longer provide support.
Balancing one spouse’s need for support with the other spouse’s financial stability is critical during a divorce. Whether you expect to be paying or receiving alimony, your attorney can advocate for your cause and fight to help you reach your goals.