When married couples seek a legal separation, one spouse may petition a court for an interim order to receive support from the other spouse before the judge issues the final divorce decree. Then, during divorce proceedings, a court will enter a permanent order for spousal maintenance.
Spousal support does not often continue indefinitely. The length of the maintenance order may depend on several factors. Arizona courts follow several statutory guidelines in evaluating how long one spouse must pay another after the dissolution of a marriage. In addition, certain events may end a person’s obligation to pay spousal support.
What factors inform a court’s analysis?
Many of the same elements that bear on a court’s analysis of how much support a person must pay also affect how long he or she must make payments. Courts try to set payments to achieve a fair and equitable result considering many different factors including the following:
- How long the marriage lasted
- Each spouse’s current and future earning capacity
- The standard of living during a marriage
- How long it will take the spouse receiving maintenance to become self-supporting
- The value of the property that the couple is dividing in a divorce agreement
What events will terminate a payment obligation?
Couples who are divorcing may stipulate express conditions that would end a support obligation such as having access to new assets. In the absence of an express agreement between the parties, entitlement to payment ends when a spouse remarries. In addition, a support obligation will end when either party dies.