During the relationship, it may make perfect sense for one spouse to make sacrifices so the other can have a more successful career. Often, one field is more lucrative, or the money saved on child care offsets the need for a second income. The spouse who earns more does so for the family, and the one who sacrifices does, too.
If the couple decides to divorce, the spouse who made the money may not want to pay alimony from his or her “hard-earned salary,” while the spouse who sacrificed a career may feel entitled to support. Arizona courts do consider contributions and sacrifice, as well as many other factors when determining maintenance.
A spouse who cannot self-support is likely to receive maintenance payments, at least temporarily. A judge may order payments that will cover living expenses while the spouse obtains the education and training to qualify for a good job. A health condition or a child’s needs may also preclude gainful employment and make self-support impossible.
Before a judge orders someone to pay maintenance, he or she will determine if there are sufficient resources to do so. If the spouse with greater earning capacity still does not make enough to cover his or her own needs, maintenance is not likely.
Factors such as the length of the marriage and the quality of life the couple enjoyed while they were married are relevant to maintenance. An affair will not influence the decision, but destroying property, spending down or hiding assets or other financial indiscretions may affect the amount and length of time of the payments.
Understanding the way the courts reach the decision may make it possible for spouses to develop their own maintenance agreement.