Arizona No-Fault Divorce and Alimony (Spousal Maintenance)
Arizona is a no-fault divorce state. What that means, is when it comes to spousal maintenance, the court isn’t going to consider the fault of a party as the cause of the divorce. The court can’t consider gambling, alcohol, drugs, or other character flaws when deciding whether or not to award spousal maintenance and how much to award.
This wasn’t always the case in a divorce. In the old days, there was a requirement to prove some type of misbehavior or problem on behalf of one or both of the parties as grounds for divorce. When this fault was proven-the most common fault being adultery–then alimony (now called spousal maintenance) was either denied or automatically awarded depending upon which spouse had committed the offence. For example, if one spouse cheated and the other was the family breadwinner, the cheating spouse was denied alimony.
There’s an exception to Arizona’s no-fault rule. Arizona allows “covenant marriages.” A covenant marriage is the same as other marriages, except the spouses have taken special marriage counseling before the ceremony to strengthen their bond. Covenant marriages are entitled to fault-based divorces if one of the spouses has committed adultery.
Why was no fault divorce adopted in Arizona and other states?
- Reduced caseload in family courts
- Common wisdom held that these laws empower a someone in an abusive marriage to make it easier to leave
- Divorce settlements are based on need, ability, and marital contribution to family financial situation, rather than on fault.
- In over 80% of no-fault divorces one party objects to the marriage ending, but no-fault laws take away that party’s decision to try and save the marriage
- Initially there was more power given to the Court when deciding custody, splitting marital assets, and alimony (spousal maintenance). In the last few years, policy and worksheets have been issued in Maricopa County and other jurisdictions so that there is more uniformity in these decisions
- Originally, there was more power given to the Court because of sympathy towards one party, however due to laws that looked out for the best interests of the child, the Courts are leaning more towards trying to make sure that both parents have an active role in the child’s upbringing
- Lowers a dependent’s living standards because they no longer have grounds to argue in their defense. A spouse can choose to leave and most of the time the courts will not enforce any spousal support
These are sobering facts and the bottom line is that you need representation to protect your interests during a divorce. Call us at Enholm Law: (602) 889-6273