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How long does spousal maintenance last after a divorce?

On Behalf of | Mar 13, 2023 | Divorce

Spousal maintenance, which people in many places call alimony, can be a complicating factor in many Arizona divorces. Dependent spouses who have left their careers or put their ambitions on the back burner to raise children, care for family members’ health needs or take care of the marital home may need support to live independently when their marriage ends. They may feel entitled to years of support, while the spouse who supported the family financially may resent such obligations.

People often end up arguing intensely over spousal maintenance in divorce proceedings because they have unrealistic expectations. It is important to understand one’s rights and responsibilities when it comes to spousal maintenance when preparing for the divorce process in order to avoid unnecessary tension.

Many factors influence maintenance payments

There is no specific formula that always generates an accurate figure for spousal maintenance payments. There are numerous considerations that influence the appropriate amount of maintenance.

How long the marriage lasted, the paid and unpaid contributions of each spouse to the household and even the health of each spouse can affect what a judge views as an appropriate length of maintenance. In cases where someone has health issues or is otherwise unable to support themselves after a long-term marriage, a judge may order permanent support.

However, in many cases, the goal of support is to help rehabilitate the lower-earning spouse. The payments will only last a set amount of time, often only a few years. Still, there are certain scenarios that would end maintenance payments before then.

When situations change, the order may change too

A dependent spouse remarrying could alter maintenance obligations, as could drastic changes to the financial circumstances of the person paying. In most cases, maintenance will persist for exactly as long as ordered by the judge and will end on schedule.

If circumstances change to make maintenance no longer appropriate, the spouse paying will typically need to request a modification rather than simply stopping their payments. Otherwise, they risk being accused of violating a court order. Securing a modification to a spousal maintenance order is sometimes possible after a significant change in circumstances.

Learning more about how Arizona handles spousal maintenance can benefit dependent spouses and wage-earning spouses alike as they consider filing for divorce. Seeking legal guidance can be tremendously helpful as well.