When going through a divorce, there are a million thoughts and questions that run through your head. Where will I live? When will I see the kids? How will I support myself? This last question is perhaps the most important as you navigate your new life. Central to this issue of financial support is the topic of alimony.
By contacting our firm, the Law Offices of Vescio & Seifert, P.C., we can help you answer questions like, “Who is entitled to alimony?” and “How is alimony determined?” We have offices in Glendale and Tucson, Arizona, but can also serve clients throughout the Phoenix metro area.
Each state has its own practices for determining alimony payments (also called spousal support) after a divorce. In Arizona, a judge will look at your specific case to decide whether alimony should be awarded at all, and if so, how much it will be and how long it will be paid. Alimony is almost always paid by the spouse who earns more and can be temporary or permanent.
Per state law, there are three types of alimony that can be awarded. The first is called “pendente lite” which is temporary support that’s only paid while the divorce is being processed. This could be ordered by a judge for a spouse who will be able to support themselves financially after the divorce is finalized but may need short-term support during the transition.
The second type of support is simply referred to as “temporary” alimony, though the length of time it’s required can range from months to years. Temporary alimony is paid after a divorce is closed and helps the receiving spouse pursue financial stability. This could mean they go back to school to obtain a higher degree or enroll in a job training program to increase their individual income.
Lastly, a judge may award permanent alimony, though this is extremely rare. Permanent alimony is only reserved for extreme cases where one spouse is incapable of earning for themselves due to factors like old age, illness, or a disability.
When a judge reviews your case, they’ll look at several factors, including how long the marriage lasted, how old each spouse is, whether there are any minor children from the marriage, any health concerns for each spouse, how long it will take for each spouse to be able to support themselves after the divorce, and what the marital standard of living was pre-divorce.
A judge may also consider the actions of either spouse during the marriage regarding joint assets. For example, if one spouse spent lavishly or recklessly and depleted the couple’s finances, a judge may award the other spouse a certain amount of alimony to make up for this.
An alimony judgment could be written to end on a certain day, but it may also be in place until the receiving spouse remarries or one spouse passes away.
There will also come times when you may need help modifying an alimony amount due to a change in circumstances. Usually, this can only be done by a judge’s order, although if the couple has come to an agreement between themselves, a court will almost always sign off on it.
If the couple cannot come to an agreement on a modified alimony agreement, then either spouse may submit a request to the court. Here, they will have to submit evidence as to why they think the order should be revised. If this is something you’d like to pursue, it’s highly recommended you do this with the help of a family law attorney who can help you present your case to the judge and ensure you have adequate grounds to bring the request forward.