For many years, spousal support was an important part of divorce, focused on helping two spouses divorce fairly without one party or the other entering financial ruin in the process. In many cases, only one spouse was the primary breadwinner in a home while the other spouse spent his, or, more often, her time in addressing matters at home.
However, while many couples still choose to operate their lives together this way, spousal support is less commonly awarded than it used to be. Even in cases where a court does honor a request for spousal support, other factors like child support orders and property division in the divorce affect the prospects of spousal support heavily.
If you face divorce and hope to secure spousal support as part of your divorce settlement, it is crucial to understand the factors that a court considers when it awards this support. You may have a number of ways to achieve your divorce goals, so it is important to work with an experienced divorce attorney who understands not only the nuances of modern spousal support law, but the specifics of Arizona law that may affect a court's decision.
Factors a court considers for spousal support
While there are no specific guidelines that dictate how courts award spousal support, it is possible to understand the factors that a court considers when making these decisions.
Courts may consider, among other things
- the duration of the marriage, especially if it persisted for many years
- the age of the requesting spouse
- the physical condition of the requesting spouse
- the mental or emotional needs of the spouse
- the ability of the requesting spouse to provide for themselves
- the amount of time, education or training the requesting spouse needs to attain self-sufficiency
- the standard of living the couple enjoyed during the marriage
- the ability of the paying spouse to provide support
Courts assess these aspects of the marriage alongside other factors in the divorce to determine how much support to award, if any, as well as how long the support should persist. Some paying spouses may seek one-time lump sum solutions to spousal support, which is an important option to consider for both sides.
However, the tax implications of spousal support are often different from those of a general divorce settlement, so be sure that you fully understand the effects of any award or settlement before accepting it and finalizing your divorce.
Build a strategy to achieve your divorce goals
No matter what your divorce goals entail, it is always wise to understand your legal rights and options before moving forward. Don't hesitate to reach out for the guidance you need.