If you are facing a divorce, you are naturally concerned about your post-divorce finances, and you may be wondering about alimony. Spousal maintenance – what most of us think of as alimony – is among the most misunderstood components of divorce, and it’s worth taking a closer look. Historically, only the wife could ask for alimony, but this has changed, and either spouse can ask for alimony if their circumstances fall within the parameters of the Arizona statute.
While there is no guarantee that you will receive spousal maintenance after your divorce, if you qualify and the court deems you in need, this financial bump can help you better navigate your post-divorce life. If you have divorce concerns related to alimony, the dedicated family law attorneys at DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC in Phoenix are committed to helping you obtain a divorce that works for you – and that includes alimony if you are so entitled.
Before you can receive alimony, you must directly ask for it in your divorce petition. If you waive your right to this spousal maintenance, you can’t go back in and modify your decree in an effort to obtain it. In other words, it’s important to get this right from the get-go, and working with an experienced family law attorney will help ensure that you do.
Your Affidavit of Financial Information
Your Affidavit of Financial Information (AFI) is critical to every financial component of your divorce, including child support and alimony. As such, it’s imperative that you pay close attention to compiling a financial affidavit that accurately reflects your finances. This document will delineate your gross monthly income from every source, your monthly expenses, and the children you support. You will provide your divorcing spouse’s attorney with your AFI along with supporting documentation, and it’s important that the numbers on both match each other.
The information on your AFI will likely include:
- Documentation regarding your income (including paystubs)
- Financial information related to self-employment (as applicable)
- Financial information pertaining to your children (including daycare and babysitting as applicable)
- Information related to your current and past employers
- Your income taxes for the last three years
- A list of your monthly expenses
- Information about expenses related to medical/eye/dental insurance
- A list of your outstanding debts
Temporary Spousal Maintenance
As you move through the divorce process, you may need temporary spousal maintenance to help keep you afloat, and you can file a motion for the same. Your motion should lay out exactly why you need the financial support and should demonstrate that your divorcing spouse is capable of paying for it. The basics should include:
- Your expenses
- Your income and its inability to cover your expenses
- Your lack of access to community funds
- Your spouse’s income and ability to cover your financial needs during the pendency of your divorce
Your motion can also address expenses associated with your divorce, such as your legal fees and moving costs.
The Initial Analysis of Your Case: Qualification
To qualify for alimony, you must be able to prove that at least one of the following applies to you:
- Your personal property alone (the income it produces) is not sufficient to provide for your reasonable needs.
- You are unable to provide for your reasonable needs through your ability to work alone, or you lack the earning potential to earn enough, or you care for a child whose age or health requires you to stay home and not work.
- You significantly contributed to your divorcing spouse’s educational and/or career successes.
- Your marriage lasted many years, and you are currently of an age that precludes you from obtaining employment sufficient to provide for your reasonable needs.
If at least one of these does not apply to you, you don’t qualify for alimony, and the process ends here.
Analyzing the Factors Specific to Your Situation
Once you are determined to qualify for spousal maintenance, the court will take the factors specific to your situation into account in determining the amount of support you will receive and the duration of that support. These factors include:
- The standard of living you and your spouse established during the course of your marriage – The court recognizes that you and your spouse probably won’t both be able to maintain the standard of living you reached in your marriage, but it is interested in making sure that your separate standards of living won’t be seriously lopsided.
- The length of your marriage – Generally, a marriage that lasts less than ten years is considered a short marriage, a marriage that lasts from 10 to 20 years is considered medium length, and a marriage that lasts more than 20 years is considered a long marriage. Longer marriages generally translate to more alimony for a longer period of time.
- Your age, physical and emotional health, earning capacity, and employment history – The court will look at these components in relation to your ability to earn. The less able you are to earn, the more significant your alimony amount and duration are likely to be.
- Your spouse’s ability to pay alimony
- The comparative financial resources that both of you have
- Your contributions to your spouse’s ability to earn
- The extent to which you sacrificed your own earning potential to stay home and care for your family
- You and your divorcing spouse’s ongoing ability to contribute to your shared children’s education
- Amount of time you’d need to get the training or education necessary to obtain a job that would adequately support you
- Excess spending, concealment of funds, or fraudulent disposition of marital property – If your divorcing spouse engaged in any of these practices, it can lead to him or her paying more in spousal maintenance than he or she ordinarily would have.
If You Have Alimony Concerns, Contact a Phoenix Family Law Attorney Today
Financial concerns are among the most stressful concerns associated with divorce. The dedicated family law attorneys at DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC in Phoenix are committed to helping you obtain the spousal maintenance to which you are entitled. Our experienced legal team is on your side, so please don’t hesitate to contact or call us at 602-457-6559 for more information today.