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3 factors considered in ordering spousal maintenance

Spousal maintenance goes by many different names, including alimony or spousal support. Unlike child support, which is compulsory if a divorcing couple has children, the court does not automatically order spousal maintenance.

Instead, the court considers requests for spousal maintenance on a case-by-case basis. The Arizona legislature describes some of the factors the court weighs when making its decision.

1. Spouse’s age and duration of the marriage

The court may issue spousal maintenance when the spouse requesting it is of an age when supporting himself or herself through employment may be difficult or impossible. The duration of the marriage goes into this consideration.

2. Contribution to the other spouse’s career

Sometimes one spouse achieves career success because the other spouse contributed to his or her training, education or earning ability. Such a contribution may be financial but does not have to be. If the court deems the other spouse’s contribution significant enough, it may approve a request for spousal maintenance as a way to compensate the other spouse.

3. Reduction in career opportunities or income

Sometimes one spouse does not necessarily contribute to the other’s career but passes up on career opportunities or increased income because doing so is to the other spouse’s benefit. For example, one spouse may give up a job or reduce his or her hours to care for the children.

Ultimately, the court gauges each spouse’s ability to be self-sufficient on his or her own. If it discovers inequity between the two, it may order spousal maintenance to correct it.