When Is Spousal Support Awarded?

Spousal support, known in Arizona as Spousal Maintenance, is not automatically ordered in all divorce cases in Arizona. Judges have wide discretion in determining when to award spousal maintenance and in what amount.

Types of Spousal Maintenance

Arizona has three different forms of spousal maintenance that a court may order. These include:

  • Indefinite Duration Spousal Maintenance – This is the kind of spousal maintenance that most people associate with “alimony.” It includes an ongoing award of maintenance without an end date. In Arizona, this type of spousal maintenance may be ordered when the recipient spouse is older, disabled, or incapable of self-sufficiency.
  • Rehabilitative Spousal Maintenance – This is the most common type of spousal maintenance in Arizona. Its purpose is to provide financial support for a defined term so that the other spouse can obtain education or work skills to later become self-sufficient.
  • Temporary Spousal Maintenance – Temporary maintenance may be awarded on a temporary basis to assist the recipient spouse during the pendency of the divorce action.

Criteria for an Award of Spousal Maintenance

Arizona law permits a judge to award spousal maintenance in divorce or separation cases when one of the following situations applies:

  • The spouse contributed to the education of the other spouse
  • The spouse does not have enough property to provide for his or her reasonable needs
  • The spouse is incapable of being self-sufficient even if employed, lacks earning capacity in the current market, or cares for a child whose age or health impedes the parent from seeking outside employment
  • The spouses were married for a long time and the recipient spouse is older, which would make it difficult for him/her to get employment that would make him/her self-sufficient

Spousal Maintenance Factors

A family law judge has wide discretion in determining whether to award spousal maintenance , as well as how much support to order and for how long. Some of the factors that a judge has to consider when making determinations about the amount and duration include:

  • The age and health of the spouses
  • The length of the marriage
  • The standard of living during the marriage
  • The employment history and earning ability of the spouses
  • The contributions and sacrifices of the recipient spouse toward the supporting spouse’s education or career
  • The ability of the supporting spouse to meet his or her own financial obligations
  • Marital and separate property of the recipient spouse
  • The amount of time necessary to increase education or job skills

Contact a Family Law Attorney

If you would like information about spousal support and your rights related to this issue, contact a family law attorney. Udall Shumway has represented clients in family law cases since 1965 and can put this experience to use on your case.


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 Support, or any other family law issue, please feel free to contact Sheri D. Shepard at 480.461.5300, log on to udallshumway.com, 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.