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Question: I was a stay-at-home mom for the majority of my marriage. During that time I accrued some student loans. In our separation agreement we each agreed to pay half of that, and any other, debt. A lawyer I spoke with stated that I am eligible for alimony (we were married 9 years and I stayed home for 6 of them), but my spouse takes great exception to this. He believes that since I did not contribute, monetarily, I should not be entitled to alimony. What should my expectations be?
The following is general information about Arizona law. To find out how the law may apply to a specific situation, see the article titled, "Where to Find an Attorney for Specific Legal Advice."
In Arizona, Spousal Maintenance is the term used for what is commonly referred to as alimony. Information on spousal maintenance can be found in the Arizona Revised Statutes in Title 25, A.R.S. § 25-319. The statute says:
A. In a proceeding for dissolution of marriage or legal separation, or a proceeding for maintenance following dissolution of the marriage by a court that lacked personal jurisdiction over the absent spouse, the court may grant a maintenance order for either spouse for any of the following reasons if it finds that the spouse seeking maintenance:
- Lacks sufficient property, including property apportioned to the spouse, to provide for that spouse's reasonable needs.
- Is unable to be self-sufficient through appropriate employment or is the custodian of a child whose age or condition is such that the custodian should not be required to seek employment outside the home or lacks earning ability in the labor market adequate to be self-sufficient.
- Contributed to the educational opportunities of the other spouse.
- Had a marriage of long duration and is of an age that may preclude the possibility of gaining employment adequate to be self-sufficient.
B. The maintenance order shall be in an amount and for a period of time as the court deems just, without regard to marital misconduct, and after considering all relevant factors, including:
- The standard of living established during the marriage.
- The duration of the marriage.
- The age, employment history, earning ability and physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance.
- The ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to meet that spouse's needs while meeting those of the spouse seeking maintenance.
- The comparative financial resources of the spouses, including their comparative earning abilities in the labor market.
- The contribution of the spouse seeking maintenance to the earning ability of the other spouse.
- The extent to which the spouse seeking maintenance has reduced that spouse's income or career opportunities for the benefit of the other spouse.
- The ability of both parties after the dissolution to contribute to the future educational costs of their mutual children.
- The financial resources of the party seeking maintenance, including marital property apportioned to that spouse, and that spouse's ability to meet that spouse's own needs independently.
- The time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment and whether such education or training is readily available.
- Excessive or abnormal expenditures, destruction, concealment or fraudulent disposition of community, joint tenancy and other property held in common.
- The cost for the spouse who is seeking maintenance to obtain health insurance and the reduction in the cost of health insurance for the spouse from whom maintenance is sought if the spouse from whom maintenance is sought is able to convert family health insurance to employee health insurance after the marriage is dissolved.
- All actual damages and judgments from conduct that results in criminal conviction of either spouse in which the other spouse or child was the victim.
C. If both parties agree, the maintenance order and a decree of dissolution of marriage or of legal separation may state that its maintenance terms shall not be modified.
D. Except as provided in subsection C of this section or section 25-317, subsection G, the court shall maintain continuing jurisdiction over the issue of maintenance for the period of time maintenance is awarded.
I was a stay-at-home mom for the majority of my marriage. During that time I accrued some student loans. In our separation agreement we each agreed to pay half of that, and any other, debt. A lawyer I spoke with stated that I am eligible for alimony (we were married 9 years and I stayed home for 6 of them), but my spouse takes great exception to this. He believes that since I did not contribute, monetarily, I should not be entitled to alimony. What should my expectations be?
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