One of the most intimidating parts of divorce can be relinquishing the higher income you enjoyed during your marriage. In fact, the inability to support oneself without the marital income is one reason why people sometimes stay in marriages longer than they want to or should do. If this sounds like you, be assured that Arizona courts do take income into account when awarding divorces, and can award spousal support when needed or deserved. Here are a few things to help you determine whether you should be getting spousal support, also known as maintenance.
In Arizona, your entitlement to maintenance basically boils down to two things: if you’re unable to financially support yourself at the same standard of living established during the marriage, or if you’ve sacrificed your own career or contributed your income to benefit your spouse or the marriage.
For instance, if your income is dramatically lower than your spouse’s, and you will be unable to pay your bills and maintain the same standard of living after the divorce, you may be able to get maintenance. Likewise, if you stopped working to raise your mutual children and worked as a stay-home mom and wife for many years, you contributed to the household income, even though you didn’t personally bring in a paycheck. Furthermore, the long interruption to your career will likely hinder your ability to get a job and maintain the same standard of living after the divorce, entitling you to maintenance. Or if instead, you worked to enable your spouse to go to school, you contributed to the household in a way that benefits your spouse even after the conclusion of the marriage, therefore you may be entitled to maintenance for that as well.
Determining Amount and Duration
Spousal support typically has a set time limit, as it is usually intended to help the recipient get back on their feet and support themselves financially, rather than support them indefinitely. The exception might be if the recipient is older and isn’t likely to be able to change their financial situation at their age, or if they have a disability or are caring for a child with a disability.
The amount of maintenance and the length of time it’s available for may also depend heavily on the duration of the marriage. A spouse leaving a long term marriage will be more likely to get maintenance than one leaving a very short term marriage. Keep in mind that maintenance also typically ends if you get married again.
Choosing Mediation vs. Litigation
Maintenance can be a sticking point in divorce proceedings, and may even be the catalyst for a court battle. It’s generally recommended that if both parties can come to an agreement in mediation, they should. Arizona laws do not provide a maintenance calculator to help determine the amount of maintenance that should be awarded, and a judge’s decision can be extremely subjective. In mediation, on the other hand, your attorney can help you come up with a reasonable budget that will allow you to better understand your financial requirements and how much you can afford to sacrifice in negotiations.
Protecting Your Best Interests
Obtaining a divorce is surprisingly easy when compared to the challenge of ensuring both parties will be financially secure following the divorce. If you need to pursue or contest spousal support, it’s best to have an experienced attorney on your side. For a consultation to help determine whether you are entitled to spousal support, or whether you can fight a request for spousal support, contact Simon Law Group, PLLC, today.