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What factors are considered when awarding spousal maintenance?

In most cases, spousal maintenance will be awarded only if a marriage lasts for a sufficient duration and one spouse truly needs the financial help. However, it may be possible for spousal support to be ordered in marriages that were relatively brief. In Arizona, there are two questions asked when determining whether to grant support.

The first question is whether or not a spouse needs or is entitled to receive support. If so, then the next question is how much support to award. When determining how much support to grant, a court will look to see whether a spouse has the resources needed to provide for his or her needs. Extra consideration may be given to spouses who will also be custodial parents who may not be able to work due to taking care of the child.

Other factors include whether a spouse contributed to the education of another spouse. A spousal support order may also be granted if one spouse is too old to find the employment needed to provide for him or herself. Typically, support will be ordered only to the point necessary to maintain a lifestyle enjoyed during the marriage. However, additional amounts may be awarded if the spouse seeking maintenance reduced their own earning potential to help their spouse succeed in a career.

In a divorce case, spousal maintenance may be a major issue that needs to be decided. Although a spouse may be entitled to maintenance, the amount may be decided in court if the two parties cannot come to an agreement on their own. If the couple has children, the children's needs must be taken into account. A family law attorney may be able to provide assistance in such a matter.

Source: Arizona Center for Divorce Education , "Spousal Maintenance", October 14, 2014

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