Key Factors That Might Qualify for Spousal Maintenance Modification

It’s common after a dissolution for spousal maintenance to be paid between divorcees. When circumstances change after the finalization of the dissolution action, it may be necessary to apply for modification of the maintenance award. Several key factors might qualify someone for spousal maintenance modification.

Spousal Maintenance Laws

Spousal maintenance (known as “alimony” in other states) is governed in Arizona by statute, A.R.S. § 25-319.

There are two parts to this law regarding an award of spousal maintenance – the first (section A) being where the courts will determine whether a spouse is entitled to spousal maintenance in Arizona. Section B of the statute determines the amount and duration of spousal maintenance, but only if a basis for payment has been found under section 25-319(A).

Judges have broad discretion in deciding whether, and how much, spousal maintenanceis appropriate. With this in mind, you will want to hire an attorney who has significant experience practicing family law, as spousal maintenance is more art than science with respect to what may be awarded.

When Spousal Maintenance Might be Modified

Generally, spousal maintenance will terminate at the earlier of: 1) the death of either party; 2) the remarriage of the spouse receiving maintenance; and 3) the expiration of the set term of maintenance.  If, however, a substantial and continuing change of circumstances arises, an award of spousal maintenance may be modified either up or down, and to be either longer or shorter than originally ordered. According to a well known Chicago divorce lawyer  Some examples of a substantial and continuing change of circumstances might include:

  • Changes in income
  • Changes in employability
  • A physical incapacity

Modification of spousal maintenance can only be accomplished if the person seeking the change can meet their burden that a substantial and continuing change of circumstances exists.  If that threshold burden is met, the Court can enter new orders that more appropriately reflect the changed circumstances.  In any event, it is wise to consult with a family law attorney if you are considering requesting a change in a spousal maintenance order.

This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding Spousal Maintenance Modification, or any other family law issue, please feel free to contact Sheri D. Shepard at 480.461.5300, log on to, or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.