If you’re considering divorce as an Arizona resident, you’re not alone. This state has one of the highest divorce rates in the country. You’ll need to consider a new living arrangement and, more than likely, a series of financial changes during this time.
How does being the sole income earner in a marriage affect your divorce? While income inequality alone can’t cause you to split from your spouse, it can lead to tension if you already have other unresolved issues in the marriage. If you earn a higher income than your spouse, you may end up owing them spousal maintenance (alimony).
In Arizona, the court must determine whether one spouse is eligible to receive this support. If they qualify, the court will award them a suitable amount and duration of alimony, which the higher earning spouse must pay. Working with an attorney during this process is essential to avoid expensive mistakes that could impact the rest of your life.
How the Sole Income Earner is Impacted in Divorce
- Whether you earn more or less than your spouse will impact divorce conditions
- The sole income earner often owes the other spouse alimony
- In order to qualify for alimony, certain conditions must be met
- An attorney can help you get the best shot at a fair outcome
Income Earner vs. Income Supporter
The earner in a relationship often makes enough income to keep the whole family afloat. Traditionally, the male spouse has most commonly been the sole income earner. But in our modern times, women often play this role, too.
While the sole earner provides financial support to the household, the income supporter might manage the family or otherwise support their spouse in earning the household income.
Qualifications for Spousal Support
If the spouse seeking alimony can’t support themselves through appropriate work opportunities or lacks sufficient property for their (reasonable) needs, they may be eligible for spousal support. In some cases, the marriage had a long duration and the spouse in need of support is at an age that makes it difficult for them to find adequate job opportunities.
If the spouse doesn’t have sufficient earning ability in the current employment market, contributed to the other spouse’s ability to receive higher education, or is the custodian of a child with a condition or age that leaves the spouse unable to work, they may also qualify.
What Impacts the Duration and Amount of Alimony?
When determining the duration and amount of spousal support, Arizona courts will look into:
- How long the marriage lasted
- Living standards during the marriage
- The comparative financial resources of each partner
- Abnormal or excessive spending during the marriage
- Health insurance costs for the lower earning spouse
- Actual damages from one spouse’s criminal behavior affecting the other
- The employment history, earning ability, age, and emotional and physical condition of the partner seeking alimony
- How much the spouse seeking alimony contributed to the current financial status of the higher earner
- The ability of the higher earner to pay alimony while also taking care of their own needs
- How long the lower earning spouse will need to acquire the training or education necessary for suitable work
- How much both spouses can contribute to educational needs of mutual children once the divorce is final
Tips for Navigating Divorce
Whether you’re the sole income earner in a divorce or an income supporter, these tips will help you get the best outcome during the process:
- Resist the urge to rush into any decisions
- Hire a financial expert, if necessary
- Try to keep finances as separate as possible
- Work with an attorney to deal with legal intricacies
- Gather all essential documentation of financial resources
How Working With an Attorney Can Help
If you’re getting divorced, you understandably want to get through the process as fast as you can. But most divorcing spouses should hire an attorney to ensure the best outcome for their situation. They can help you through spousal support questions, child custody concerns, and dealing with debts.
A divorce attorney can also help you plan for existing or future assets, and ensure that your divorce doesn’t impact your estate plan negatively.
Frequently Asked Questions on Divorce
Here are some of the most commonly asked questions regarding the divorce process:
Q: Can I lose my pension during a divorce?
Retirement plans and pensions are considered marital assets, meaning that the portion you earned while married may be subject to division between you and your spouse. However, the amount that you earned before marriage should belong solely to you.
Q: Do I have to go to court for my divorce?
Most divorce cases are settled without court proceedings. You’ll only have to visit court for your divorce if you can’t reach an agreement with your spouse.
Q: Is my house marital property if it was only in my name originally?
If you owned a home in your name, then added your spouse to the deed after you got married, the house is likely marital property. The best way to determine which of your assets are marital property and which aren’t is to speak with a family law attorney.
Q: What causes people to make mistakes during a divorce?
Our legal system is complex, and divorce is already an emotionally complicated matter. This combination makes it easy to forget important information, such as old debts, which could lead to more serious consequences down the road.
What to Do if You Need Help
Divorce can put a lot of strain on your life, especially if you’re the sole income earner in the marriage. Working with a family law attorney is one reliable way to make the situation less stressful for you. While you’ll need to help them gather information, the attorney can handle the legal work for you, giving you space to focus on designing your new life.
It may be tempting to rush through the process and get it over with, but taking your time will pay off later and ensure you get the best possible outcome.