Arizona is a "no-fault divorce" state. As such, the Courts will not consider any acts of marital misconduct when deciding whether to award spousal maintenance (alimony). Which spouse filed the petition for dissolution of marriage also has no bearing on the court's decision to award maintenance.

Awarding Spousal Maintenance.

There is no complete predictability in alimony awards as judges have a great deal of discretion that they apply on a case-by-case basis. In general, when determining the appropriateness of alimony under the circumstances of a particular case, the court must conduct a two-part analysis.

STEP ONE: A.R.S. § 25-319(A)

First, a spouse must be eligible for alimony. An award of spousal maintenance is ordered only when the facts presented establish that at least one of the following factors exist:

1. A spouse lacks sufficient property, including property apportioned to the spouse, to provide for that spouses reasonable needs.

2. A spouse is unable to be self-sufficient through appropriate employment or is the custodian of a child whose age or condition is such that the custodian should not be required to seek employment outside the home or lacks earning ability in the labor market adequate to be self-sufficient.

3. A spouse contributed to the educational opportunities of the other spouse.

4. The marriage was of long duration and the spouse is of an age that may preclude the possibility of gaining employment adequate to be self-sufficient.

The first step focuses on the recipient spouse's ability to take care of his or her own needs.

STEP TWO: A.R.S. § 25-319(B)

Second, after the court has determined that the spouse is eligible under step one, the court opens its analysis to consider some of the following relevant factors, for example: 1) Standard of Living, 2) Marriage Duration, 3) Age, Employment, Earning Ability of Supported Spouse, 4) Supporting Spouse's Financial Ability, 5) Comparative Financial Resources and Earning Ability of Both Spouses , 6) Contributions from Supported Spouse. 7) Extent Supported Spouse's Lost Career Opportunities, 8) Ability of Both Spouses to Contribute to Children's Educational Costs, 9) Financial Resources of Supported Spouse, 10) Time Needed for Training or Educational Program, 1) Excessive or Abnormal Expenditures and Concealment, 12) Health Care Insurance Costs, and 13) Damages/Judgments from Criminal Conduct.

After considering the relevant factors, the court has broad discretion in determining how much money will be paid and for how long spousal maintenance will last. Establishing the need for and amount of spousal maintenance can be a complicated and challenging aspect of the family law case. Contact a knowledgeable family law attorney at Lasiter & Jackson if spousal maintenance is part of your divorce or legal separation.

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