November 19, 2012 By Wallin & Klarich

In decades past, it was typical for a woman to cease working after marriage in order to focus on her home and on her family. Many women never obtained a college degree or any kind of advanced career training. In the event of a divorce, it would be very difficult for a woman who has served as a homemaker for many years to be able to make ends meet. Alimony, which is payments made by a husband to his former wife, was instituted to make sure that women would be able to maintain the same standard of living that they were accustomed to during their marriages. It was quite common for a woman to be awarded lifetime alimony payments, which would only cease after her death or remarriage or the death of her former husband.

Today, changing family dynamics, as well as increased educational and career opportunities for women have made alimony unnecessary in many situations. It is now more common for women to delay marriage until receiving a college degree, and many women typically juggle career and family obligations. Currently, it is exceedingly rare for a woman to be awarded alimony for life. Today’s focus is more on assistance until a woman is able to rejoin the workforce or otherwise get back on her feet. Also, it should be noted that alimony is no longer exclusively for women.

While less common, a man can be awarded alimony if he earned less money than his wife and chose to focus his attention on raising the children or taking care of the home. Alimony is separate from child support, and both can be awarded simultaneously, although alimony payments will be considered as part of the receiving spouse’s income when calculating child support payments.

In the state of Arizona, alimony is typically referred to as spousal maintenance. Unlike many other states, there is no set formula that determines the amount of maintenance awarded, if any at all. Instead, the court will take several factors into consideration. For example, if one spouse is unable to become self sufficient due to having to care for very young or disabled children, then that spouse would most likely be eligible for spousal maintenance.

If one spouse lacks the education or skills necessary to find a job sufficient for survival, then he or she may be awarded spousal maintenance on a temporary basis, until a degree or other form of job training is procured.

Also, if one spouse worked and supported the other spouse while that spouse was in school obtaining a degree, then the spouse that worked may be entitled to maintenance from the spouse who earned the degree. Finally, the assets, earning potential and health of both spouses are taken into consideration as well as the length of the marriage. In some cases involving marriages over ten years long, if one spouse is deemed too elderly or ill to ever be productive in the workforce, lifetime maintenance may still be awarded.

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