How to Avoid Alimony in Arizona

Scottsdale attorney protects clients from spousal maintenance payments

Alimony, which is known as spousal maintenance in Arizona, is not a right. A court grants alimony only if circumstances warrant an award. If you are wondering how to avoid making alimony payments in Arizona, the attorneys at Clark & Schloss Family Law, P.C. in Scottsdale can advise you on a number of strategies. Alimony avoidance is best planned in advance. Nevertheless, if you find yourself on the cusp of a divorce, there are still measures to take that may protect your finances from the burden of alimony. We also help clients who are already paying alimony to end that obligation under certain circumstances.

Reasons for an award of alimony in Arizona

A family court has discretion to grant an order for spousal maintenance if the requesting party meets one or more of these criteria:

  • They lack sufficient property to provide for their own expenses
  • They lack the capacity to be self-sufficient through employment
  • They are being prevented from seeking gainful employment by duties as the primary caregiver of children of tender age
  • They have contributed to the other spouse’s educational opportunities and career advancement
  • They have been married for a long time and have reached an age where the possibility of gainful employment is unlikely

Once the court determines that alimony is appropriate, there are multiple factors used in calculating alimony, which relate to both the amount and duration.

If none of the criteria listed above exist, a court might deny alimony. A court might also terminate alimony if the paying spouse can demonstrate the conditions that made the recipient spouse eligible.

Reasons for termination or disqualification of alimony in Arizona

The following actions or circumstances can preclude, limit or terminate the obligation to pay alimony:

  • Prenuptial or postnuptial agreement — Engaged couples can execute a prenuptial agreement that eliminates the possibility of spousal maintenance. This is common for two-career couples. Married couples can draft a post marital agreement for the same purpose. As long as the contract is valid, the court will enforce the terms.
  • Inheritance — If one spouse receives a huge inheritance that eliminates the need for the maintenance they have been receiving, the paying spouse can ask the court to end the obligation.
  • Lump sum payment — As part of a property settlement during divorce, one spouse can grant the other a greater share of the marital estate in exchange for dropping a request for alimony. This one-time action may be preferable to making continuous payments over a long duration.
  • The spouse receiving alimony makes no effort to obtain work or training — A court can order rehabilitative alimony, which consists of payments for a short duration so that a dependent spouse can pursue education or job training to become self-sufficient. A spouse who refuses to make such efforts cannot expect the court to extend the payment period.

Court approval is required for any measure that negatively impacts a spouse’s potential entitlement to alimony after a divorce.

Change in life condition

When the recipient spouse remarries or begins cohabitating with a supporting partner, the court can cancel an alimony award. This is an area of controversy which is often litigated, because not every cohabitation arrangement is romantic or financially supportive. Today, members of the opposite sex often share apartments as roommates. Litigation may be necessary to determine the nature of the relationship and whether the recipient spouse is receiving financial assistance through the relationship.

Alimony awards terminate upon the death of either party. A paying spouse who becomes disabled or faces a job loss that is likely to be permanent can petition the court to end alimony. Retirement, if it reduces the ability to pay alimony, can also be grounds for termination.

Modifying an alimony order in AZ

If you are currently making alimony payments, but the conditions which made alimony necessary have substantially changed, an Arizona alimony attorney at our firm can help. We may be able to present an argument that lowers your monthly payment or frees you altogether from your obligation.

Contact our Scottsdale, Arizona alimony lawyers today

Clark & Schloss Family Law, P.C. in Scottsdale helps Arizonans avoid the burden of paying spousal maintenance after divorce. Call us today at 602-789-3497 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.