Holland Law Group
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Family Law



Marriages can end

through divorce, annulment, or legal separation. Although similar, each procedure has differences which alter the finances of the parties after the marriage and result in a different legal status.

Divorce

A divorce, and the issues that come with it, including custody and financial concerns, is among the most stressful and difficult experiences that can occur in your life. An experienced attorney can provide reassurance and stability as you navigate the divorce process.


Regardless of whether the marriage ends in divorce, legal separation or annulment, your case can be resolved in one of two ways, either by reaching agreement with your spouse, or by leaving disputed issues to a Judge for resolution. If possible, we prefer avoiding the uncertainty, time and cost associated with trial. However, in some cases, the circumstances demand that we settle these concerns in court to protect your rights.


Divorce issues include:

  1. Custody and visitation of children
  2. Child support for any children
  3. Equitable division of marital assets
  4. Equitable division of marital debts
  5. Alimony
  6. Determination of payment of attorney's fees

Arizona is a no fault divorce state. This means that if one party requests a divorce, the Court will grant it regardless of whether there has been marital misconduct. It is sufficient to allege that the marriage is irretrievably broken and no reasonable prospect of reconciliation exists. Of course, most divorce cases involve a number of additional issues. Child custody, visitation, and child support issues are typically the most hotly-contested issues. Assets and debt acquired during the marriage must be distributed equitably, which typically means equally under Arizona's community property law. For an equitable division of property to occur, appraisals are often necessary. Amount and duration of any alimony or spousal maintenance payments must also be resolved.

In order to file for a divorce in Arizona you or your spouse must have lived in Arizona for at least 90 days before your case is filed. If your case involves issues related to children, including custody and child support, the time period is generally 6 months.

Simple, uncontested divorces can become final in as few as 80-90 days, while more complex divorces can last a couple of years. After your initial consultation, we can give you an idea of how long your case will likely take.

Legal Separation

Legal separation is similar in process to a divorce, but much different in result. For some people legal separation is more suitable, depending on the particular circumstances. Legal separation may be used to keep one spouse on the other's insurance. Religious reasons sometimes play a role. Others are not ready to take the formal step of ending a marriage through divorce.

Legal separation brings up the same issues that arise in a divorce. Namely: custody, child support, visitation, alimony, and division of assets and debts. Legal separation does not end the legal rights and relationships that arise through marriage.

Annulment

An annulment of marriage results in the Court declaring that the parties were never legally married. Annulment is typically reserved for cases involving fraud or incapacity.

Fraud can include bigamy, concealment of a communicable disease, or a criminal past.

An annulment puts the parties back in the position they were in had they never been married. This result is much different in terms of property distribution than what may result from a divorce or legal separation.

Issues related to custody, visitation, child support and property division may arise, even when an annulment is granted.

Alimony and Equitable Division of Assets

Spousal maintenance, or alimony, is often awarded in divorce cases - sometimes the award is temporary, and sometimes it is indefinite. After your initial consultation, we can advise you whether your case is likely to result in an award of alimony. 
Alimony is money that is paid by one spouse as part of the divorce. It is paid independently of child support, and is not a supplement to, or replacement for child support obligations.

The court will consider several things when determining alimony, if an amount cannot be agreed upon by the parties:

  1. How long the parties were married
  2. The age and earning capacity of the spouse seeking alimony
  3. The quality of life the parties were accustomed to while married
  4. The spouses ability to pay
  5.  The contributions of the parties to the marriage 

Arizona is a community property state. Accordingly, assets and debts are split equitably at divorce. Property that the parties accumulate during the course of the marriage (with limited exceptions) along with debt incurred is typically shared by the spouses equally regardless of whether one or both spouses’ names are on the account/title/deed.

If one spouse or both spouses work, the result is the same. In either case, whatever property and/or debts are acquired become “community” property/debts. Community property may include homes, lots, or other real estate, cash, stocks, cars, notes and other financial instruments, and even an individual’s rights to a profit-sharing or other retirement plan.

When a divorce case is filed, all of the community property must be divided so that it becomes the separate property of each spouse. Community debt is treated in the same fashion. An "equitable" division typically means each spouse is allowed half the community property and debts.

Gifts and property that a spouse receives from an inheritance is generally not community property. In addition, items that either spouse owned prior to the marriage are typically treated as separate property, not community property. However, just because an item was once separate property, does not mean it always stays that way. In some cases, community property will be used to make continued payments on a separate asset. In such cases, what was once separate property may be "commingled" with the community property and become part of the community. A house is a common example of this.

Child Custody

Arizona child custody disagreements create frustrating cases for parents with differing opinions regarding how much time each parent should spend with their child(ren) and how important decisions, such as educational or medical decisions, are decided between the parents. 

A myriad of child custody issues can arise between parents which, if not addressed, often result in future custody disagreements. These future custody disagreements may lead to additional conflict between the parents long after the initial child custody determination is made. A well drafted Parenting Plan from an experienced attorney can eliminate those future disagreements; thereby saving the parents significant stress, time, and money.

Your child custody lawyer must have a thorough understanding of the factors and child custody laws the court is required to consider before issuing child custody orders to effectively represent your interests in a contested child custody dispute, including consideration and evaluation of the following statutory factors:

  1. 1. The preferences of the child(ren) regarding custody;
  2. 2. The wishes of the parents regarding custody;
  3. 3. The relationship and interactions between the child and each parent, as well as the child’s relationship with all other individuals at each parent’s home;
  4. 4. The child’s adjustment to each parent’s home and surrounding community;
  5. 5. The psychological and physical health of the child and both parents;
  6. 6. The likelihood each parent will cooperate with the other parent exercising parenting time with the child;
  7. 7. The extent to which either parent provided for the care of the child in the past, including whether one parent was the primary care provider for the child;
  8. 8. The extent to which either parent used coercion or undue influence to obtain custody of the child;
  9. 9. The extent to which each parent complied with the statutory obligation to attend the required Parent Education course;
  10. 10. Whether either parent has been convicted of falsely reporting an allegation of child abuse or neglect against the other parent and whether either parent has been a subject in an Order of Protection for domestic violence.

The concept of custody encompasses two concepts: legal decision-making authority and parenting time. Legal decision-making authority determines who will make decisions impacting the child, and parenting time impacts how much time each parent has the child(ren) in their custody, control and care.

If one parent is awarded sole legal decision-making authority, that parent generally has complete control with respect to important decisions in the child's life. Most often, the parent who is not awarded legal decision-making authority will still have visitation rights, referred to as parenting time.

Where the Court awards joint legal decision-making authority of the children, the parents share in the decisions that will impact their children. These decisions may include things such as where the child will go to school, choices related to medical care, religious practices and others. An award of joint legal decision-making authority does not impact child support. It deals only with the legal rights related to decision making. When joint legal decision-making authority is awarded, a parent may or may not also have joint physical custody of the child(ren). This does not always mean that both parents will spend exactly the same amount of time with the child(ren).

Visitation is typically ordered to ensure that the parent who does not have physical custody is still awarded time with the child. As a general rule, the Court strives to ensure that both parents are present in the lives of the children, where appropriate.

Paternity/Maternity

When a child is born to an unmarried couple, it is important to both parents and the child that paternity be established.

If a father wants to have any rights in the child's life or if a mother wants to collect child support, paternity must be established. The father's name on a child’s birth certificate raises a presumption of paternity, but to enforce legal rights, paternity must be established in court. To do this, a parent must file a case in court.

Parental obligations are the responsibility of both parents. Either a mother or a father can file an action to establish paternity. After paternity is established by the court, either parent can pursue their legal rights.

There are two ways to establish Paternity. Both parents can admit they are the parents of the child, or a genetic test can be done. Arizona courts allow DNA tests to determine paternity. We can help you understand your options, and if necessary, help you set up a paternity test. If a parent denies paternity, either can be forced to allow a blood test to establish paternity.

Paternity is important for several reasons. First, it is necessary to establish paternity before a father can be ordered by a court to pay child support. Second, a father can enforce his rights to custody and visitation.

Paternity actions can involve a variety of issues. Typically, the Court will determine: who the father of the child is, what legal and physical custody arrangement is appropriate, support obligations and medical expenses for the child.

Child Support

The responsibility for the support and care of a child is shared by both parents. If you are the non-custodial parent, this will include paying child support. The amount of child support is calculated according to the Arizona Child Support Guidelines. To get an idea of what you might expect to pay or receive, you can access the child support calculator from our website.

Child Support Calculator

These guidelines apply to child support cases in Arizona. They take into account a variety of factors: 

  •     • What is the income of the parents
  •     • How much are child care costs and who pays for it
  •     • How much is insurance and who pays it
  •     • Any special needs the child may have
  •     • The age of the child
  •     • How much time does the child spend with the parent who is paying child support

Child support is paid when the child is under 18, or in some cases until the child is 19 if the child is still in high school. If the child has special needs, or is mentally and/or physically impaired, support may continue indefinitely.

In certain cases, the Court may allow parents to vary from the child support guidelines. This discretion rests with the Court and the Court is not obligated to allow it.

Each situation is different. You may be told that your friend or relative pays a certain amount of child support for a certain number of children. Yet, this has no bearing on what you may be ordered to pay, or what you may receive. Our experienced attorneys can explain to you how the child support guidelines will likely apply in your circumstance.

Grandparents Rights and Third-Party Visitation Rights

In Arizona, grandparents and certain third-parties are allowed the right to see and spend time with some minor children. Relationships between grandparents and their grandchildren are special, and Arizona recognizes this fact. Quality time spent with grandparent and certain individuals who act as parents typically benefits both the child and the grandparents/other individuals. Unfortunately, divorce or other family tension can sometimes threaten these relationships.

If a parent with custody will not let a grandparent visit with his or her grandchild, the grandparent may petition the Court to allow visitation.

In all cases, the Court's primary concern is what is in the best interests of the child(ren). Don't let a family disagreement keep you from maintaining your relationships with children who are important to you. Instead, call us so we can protect your relationship and prepare a petition for filing with the Court.

Non-Parent Custody

In some cases, neither parent is able to provide for the needs of the child. Often a relative will take responsibility for the care and support of the child.

Numerous circumstances can prevent a child's parents from caring for and having custody of the child. Medical conditions, mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse, emotion instability or physical abuse an all play a role. It is important to know your options. Speak to an experienced child custody attorney as soon as possible if one or more of these circumstances is present.

If you are acting as the caregiver for a child whose parents are unable to care for the child, contact us to discuss how you can get legal and physical custody of the child to enable you to make the important decisions in the child's life. We will work to make sure that the child's best interests are met.

Orders of Protection/Domestic Violence

Domestic violence encompasses a number of crimes which include violence or threats of violence against individuals in domestic relationships. These include assault, threats and intimidation, trespass, endangering someone, interference with custody of children, kidnapping, trespass, unlawful imprisonment and others.

If you want to protect yourself and others who are facing domestic violence, but are not in immediate danger, you can apply for an order of protection from the Superior Court, Justice Court or Municipal Court.

If there is already a family case pending in the Superior Court, you need to file the papers there. We can help you.

An order of protection comes from a Judge and is intended to help prevent additional acts of domestic violence by letting you seek help from the police. Such an order is valid for one year, although they are renewable. Even if you have an order of protection, it is not a guarantee of your safety. You should always be alert and careful and take steps to protect yourself.

An order of protection is permitted when certain relationships exist. Examples of the types of relationships include:

  1. A spouse or former spouse
  2. Your current or former roommate of the opposite sex
  3. The Parent of your living or unborn child
  4. A relative by blood or marriage.

Prenuptial and Post Nuptial Agreements

A premarital agreement is used to make sure that you and your future spouse agree about what property and debt each is bringing to the marriage. These agreements may deal with other rights and responsibilities and/or issues that may arise should the marriage end.

Premarital agreements are also used in subsequent marriages to preserve existing estate plans and protect children you may bring to the marriage. Premarital agreements help identify assets owned before the marriage as separate property. This may have implications unrelated to the marital relationship, but important to creditors (or potential future creditors). We can also prepare postnuptial agreements to establish rights and responsibilities from the time of the agreement into the future.

Complete disclosure of debts and assets of the parties is important in determining whether a prenuptial agreement can be enforced. Failure to disclose assets or debts can have a serious adverse impact on the enforceability of the agreement.

If you are considering signing a prenuptial agreement, you should consult an attorney before you sign. Your own attorney can give you independent advice and counsel to make sure your best interests are protected.

Arizona Step-Parent Adoptions

Stable loving families are always in the best interest of a child and we at Holland Law Group PLLC are pleased to provide adoption services to help step-parents formalize their relationship with a step-child through adoption.

The Process of Step-Parent Adoption

A step-parent adoption is not complicated and, in many cases, can be accomplished quickly. The only area of potential difficulty may be the first step: termination of parental rights of the non-participating/absentee birth parent.

It is usually the case that a step-parent who wishes to adopt a child has been filling a parental role for some time. The absent biological parent often has had no direct involvement or relationship with the child, and may or may not be paying child support.

The easiest way is if the absent parent will sign a document relinquishing his or her parental rights. Sometimes the request to relinquish parental rights is emotionally difficult and the biological parent may delay or need reassurance. In many cases, however, the biological parent is in agreement with the step-parent adoption and signs the relinquishment papers with minimal delay. A step-parent adoption means the biological parent will no longer be responsible for paying child support.

If the biological parent is uncooperative, or their whereabouts are unknown, a hearing will need to be held to terminate that parent's rights. Remaining steps include paperwork and a court appearance, and investigation by a family services agency. It is not as complicated as an independent or agency adoption.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Family Law

How much does it cost to file a Divorce in the Arizona Family Court?

Filing fees vary for each county. Check with the Clerk of your local Superior Court for the latest information on court costs and filing fees.

How long will it take to finish my case?

Spouses wanting to divorce in Arizona must wait a minimum of 60 days from the date the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage is served upon the Respondent before the Court will grant the divorce. If your case is contested (i.e., a Response is filed by the opposing party), your case can take considerably longer.

Do I have to prove that I am entitled to a divorce?

Arizona is a "no fault" state, and neither spouse is required to prove that the other engaged in any marital misconduct to get a divorce. The only relevant consideration is whether the spouse seeking the divorce believes that there are "irreconcilable differences" between husband and wife.

How do I notify my spouse or my child's parent that I have filed a divorce?

In order for a court of law to enter Orders requiring someone to do something (like pay child support), that court must have “jurisdiction” over the person. In order for the Arizona courts to obtain jurisdiction over a person, that person must be "served" with a summons and a complaint (or a summons and a petition, in the case of a divorce). A person may be served by a "process server" - a person licensed by the state to serve court documents - who brings the court papers to the opposing party and delivers them to the person directly. There are other means for serving people who cannot be found or who live out of state. If your process server cannot locate and serve the opposing party within the state of Arizona, you should speak to an attorney about other possible means of serving the summons and complaint.

What is the difference between legal and physical custody?

The term "legal custody" involves the right to make major decisions regarding the health, welfare and education of the child. The term "physical custody" involves the right to spend time with the child.

What is the difference between sole and joint legal custody?

The parent awarded sole legal custody makes all decisions regarding the health, education and welfare of the child without being required to consult with the other parent. When parents are awarded joint legal custody, they both participate in reaching decisions regarding the health, education and welfare of their child.

What is the difference between a custodial parent and a non-custodial parent?

The person with whom the child spends most of their time is considered the custodial parent, and is often called the "primary residential parent." The non-custodial parent has access to the child, but usually according to a schedule agreed to by the parents or ordered by the Court.

What is the typical visitation schedule for a non-custodial parent?

Generally, depending on the age of the child and the facts of the particular case, the non-custodial parent will be allowed access to the child every other weekend, alternating holidays and a few weeks in the summer. The Superior Court of Maricopa County, Arizona uses a set of guidelines to help determine what visitation schedule the non-custodial parent will have. Click Here to see the Arizona Model Parenting Time Plans for Parent/Child Access (this may take a while to download - slower Internet connections should right-click and choose "save as," then view the file after it has finished downloading.)

What factors will the Court consider when determining which parent will have custody of the child?

Generally, the court will consider all of the following factors in its effort to determine what custody arrangement is in the best interests of the child:

  1. 1. The wishes of the child's parent or parents as to custody.
  2. 2. The wishes of the child as to the custodian.
  3. 3. The interaction and interrelationship of the child with the child's parent or parents, the child's siblings and any other person who may significantly affect the child's best interest.
  4. 4. The child's adjustment to home, school and community.
  5. 5. The mental and physical health of all individuals involved.
  6. 6. Which parent is more likely to allow the child frequent and meaningful continuing contact with the other parent.
  7. 7. If one parent, both parents or neither parent has provided primary care of the child.
  8. 8. The nature and extent of coercion or duress used by a parent in obtaining an agreement regarding custody.
  9. 9. Whether a parent has participated in the mandatory parent information program class.
  10. 10. Whether there has been domestic violence in the marriage or against the child.
  11. 11. Drug or alcohol abuse by a parent.

Is it possible to modify custody and visitation orders?

The Arizona court always has the authority to modify orders relating to child custody if the court finds that a modification is in the best interests of the child. Before the court will consider changing the current custody arrangement, the parent seeking the change must show that there has been a substantial and continuing change of circumstance that somehow has had an adverse effect on the child. Typically, the court will find such a change of circumstance if one parent moves a considerable distance away, remarries begins abusing drugs/alcohol, causes severe problems with visitation, or the like.

How old does a child have to be before s/he can decide with which parent s/he wants to live?

In Arizona, the child's wishes may be considered regardless of the age of the child. Only the judge, however, may make the final decision on where the child will live.

My child lives in Arizona but I live in another state. Which state will enter custody orders in my case?

Generally, the state where your child has lived for the last six months will have the ability to enter orders concerning custody of your child. This rule may not apply if child custody and/or visitation orders regarding your child have already been entered by a court in another state or country. This rule may also vary depending on where you live. Consult with an attorney if you are unsure of where your lawsuit should be litigated.

My child's other parent has sole legal custody. Do I still have the right to obtain documents and information regarding my child's education and health?

Yes. Arizona law states: "Unless otherwise provided by court order or law, on reasonable request both parents are entitled to have equal access to documents and other information concerning the child's education and physical, mental, moral and emotional health including medical, school, police, court and other records directly from the custodian of the records or from the other parent." A.R.S. § 25-403.06(A).

My child's other parent is not paying child support. Do I still have to allow visitation?

Yes. Arizona law considers the issues of visitation and child support to be separate and distinct, so the custodial parent must continue to allow the non-custodial parent to visit with the child despite the non-custodial parent's failure to pay child support. The reasoning is this: Child support orders are based upon the financial needs of the child and the ability of the child's parents to meet those needs. Visitation orders are intended to safeguard the best interests of a child by ensuring that the child has a meaningful relationship with each parent. Because of this distinction, one parent's failure to pay support will not excuse the other parent's failure to allow visitation.

What is my "fair share?"

The law of Arizona recognizes that all assets acquired during marriage that were not obtained through gift, inheritance or intestacy are owned equally (one-half each) by the spouses. Similarly, most debts incurred by either spouse during marriage are the equal responsibility of both spouses. This approach to division of marital property is known as the law of "community property." The Arizona courts, however, have the authority in most instances to divide marital property and debt in a way that is not equal. How the Arizona courts will ultimately divide your marital estate depends on the facts and circumstances of your particular case.

Am I entitled to a portion of my spouse's retirement benefits?

Retirement benefits may be considered community property and divided between the parties at the time of the divorce. If the spouses were married throughout the entire time of employment at the job providing the retirement benefits, then the all of the retirement benefits are community property. Only a part of the retirement benefits may be community property if the spouses were not married during the entire time of employment. The court typically determines how much of the retirement benefit is community property by comparing the length of the marriage against the length of time the spouse was employed, translating this into a fraction, and applying it to the value of the retirement benefits. Once the community interest in retirement benefits is determined, each party is awarded their share of the benefits. A retirement plan can be community property even if the employee spouse is not yet vested. A separate order directing the administrator of the retirement plan to divide the retirement benefits (called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order or a Non-Qualified Domestic Relations Order) is usually submitted to the Court for approval at the time the parties are officially divorced. You should note that there are different types of retirement benefits (traditional pensions, 401(k)s, IRAs and the like), not all of which are valued or divided by the Court the same way. Consult an attorney if you are unsure how much of your spouse's retirement benefits you may be entitled to receive.

How much will my child support be?

The Court will calculate child support in your case based upon a set of guidelines issued by the Arizona Supreme Court. Generally, the calculation of child support will depend on the total gross income of the parents, child care costs, the cost of your child's medical/dental insurance, your child's age, how much time the child spends with each parent, and possibly other extraordinary expenses incurred to care for or educate your child. Click here to see the Arizona Child Support Calculator.

Who will pay for day care?

If your child requires day care, the court usually will include the amount of the day care costs in its calculations. If day care costs are included in the calculations, then the parents share the cost in proportion to their gross incomes, and the parent who receives child support will be the parent who pays the day care provider.

What about medical and dental bills?

The cost of your child's medical insurance premium is treated similarly to day care costs - i.e., the amount of the medical insurance premium is factored into the child support calculations, and each parent will pay a share of that cost in proportion to their incomes. The parent who carries the policy (whether through their employment or otherwise) will pay the medical insurance provider, regardless of whether they receive or pay child support. If the parent who pays child support is also the parent who carries the medical insurance coverage, they receive a credit against the amount of child support they pay for their proportionate share of the cost of the premium.

For medical bills not covered by insurance, each parent pays a share of the bill in proportion to their incomes. The uncovered medical bills are not factored into the child support calculations, however, and it is up to the parent who incurs the bill to seek payment from the other parent. Usually the court directs the parent who incurs the bill to send a copy to the other parent, and the other parent is expected to pay their share directly to the parent who sent the bill.

Does the amount of time I spend with my children make a difference in the calculations?

Yes. The more time a parent spends with their children, the less they pay. Usually the court decreases the amount of child support to be paid depending on how may days a month the parent sees the children on average.

My child's other parent is not paying child support. Do I still have to allow visitation?

Yes. Arizona law considers the issues of visitation and child support to be separate and distinct, so the custodial parent must continue to allow the non-custodial parent to visit with the child despite the non-custodial parent's failure to pay child support. The reasoning is this: Child support orders are intended to provide for the financial needs of the child, and visitation (parenting time) orders are intended to promote a meaningful relationship between the child and each parent. Because of this distinction, one parent's failure to pay support will not excuse the other parent's failure to allow visitation. Similarly, a parent's failure to allow parenting time does not excuse the other parent from paying the child support order. A parent's failure to abide by any court order, whether it is for child support or visitation, however, does not need to go unpunished. Speak to a qualified family law attorney to discuss ways to obtain and enforce court orders for child support.

Am I supposed to write a check each month for child support?

The court will normally enter an Order of Assignment that directs your employer to withhold a certain amount of money each month from your paycheck to cover the child support obligation. To determine how much will be withheld, multiply the monthly child support by twelve (to get the yearly total), then divide that yearly total by the number of pay periods you have in a year. For parents who are paid every other week, divide the yearly total by twenty six. For parents who are paid twice a month, divide the yearly total by twenty four. The court will usually withhold an additional fee for processing the wage assignment.

If the court does not enter an Order of Assignment, or if the Order of Assignment does not go into effect at the time you are ordered to pay child support, you should send your check directly to the Support Payment Clearinghouse. The Clearinghouse processes all child support payments and keeps records of payments. Sending your child support payment to the Clearinghouse will help avoid any confusion if a dispute arises over whether a parent has paid all of the child support ordered by the court.

In some cases, the parents agree or the court orders that one parent will pay child support directly to the other. This is not the best approach for the parent who is ordered to pay, since it puts the burden on the paying parent to keep records of the payments. Furthermore, if the records are not accepted by the court, the paying parent may not receive credit for paying child support (i.e., the court may consider it a gift to the other parent).

Where do I send the child support check?

If your employer is not withholding child support from your pay and you have not been ordered to pay the other parent directly, you should make your check payable to the Support Payment Clearinghouse. You are required to send an additional handling fee of $2.25 per month ($27.00 per year) with your payment.

Support Payment Clearinghouse
P.O. Box 52107
Phoenix, AZ 85072-2107

Can I get a record of the child support payments made?

If the child support payments were made through the Clearinghouse, you can get a record of them through the Clerk of the Court in the Superior Court where you case was filed. There is a fee for the official payment history records.

What factors are considered when determining if someone is entitled to receive spousal maintenance?

The court may consider many facts when deciding if spousal maintenance (formerly called alimony) is appropriate in a particular case. The criteria that the Arizona court considers are set forth in A.R.S. § 25-319(A), which states that the Court may award spousal maintenance for any of the following reasons if it finds that the spouse seeking maintenance:

  1. 1. Lacks sufficient property, including property apportioned to the spouse, to provide for that spouse's reasonable needs.
  2. 2. 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.
  3. 3. Contributed to the educational opportunities of the other spouse.
  4. 4. Had a marriage of long duration and is of an age that may preclude the possibility of gaining employment adequate to be self-sufficient.

Consult with an attorney if you are unsure whether spousal support is appropriate in your case.

What factors are considered when determining the amount and duration of the spousal maintenance order?

The factors set forth in A.R.S. § 25-319(B) should be considered, which include:

  1. 1. The standard of living established during the marriage.
  2. 2. The duration of the marriage.
  3. 3. The age, employment history, earning ability and physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance.
  4. 4. The ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to meet that spouse's needs while meeting those of the spouse seeking maintenance.
  5. 5. The comparative financial resources of the spouses, including their comparative earning abilities in the labor market.
  6. 6. The contribution of the spouse seeking maintenance to the earning ability of the other spouse.
  7. 7. The extent to which the spouse seeking maintenance has reduced that spouse's income or career opportunities for the benefit of the other spouse.
  8. 8. The ability of both parties after the dissolution to contribute to the future educational costs of their mutual children.
  9. 9. 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.
  10. 10. 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.
  11. 11. Excessive or abnormal expenditures, destruction, concealment or fraudulent disposition of community, joint tenancy and other property held in common.
  12. 12. 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.

How to keep your Attorney's fees down

  1. Collect information before your initial meeting with your attorney. This includes names, addresses and telephone numbers of those involved.
  2. Be organized. Provide your attorney with copies of letters, documents and other important papers at the first meeting.
  3. Be prepared with written questions for your attorney to answer.
  4. Keep your attorney informed, but don't make unnecessary calls. It is likely you are being charged for your call at the attorney's hourly rate.
  5. Be to Court and appointments with your attorney on time.
  6. Ask if there are other ways you can reduce costs.
  7. Keep a file with copies of the documents sent by the Court or your attorney.