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Spousal Maintenance During the COVID-19 Crisis

Many of you have either lost your jobs of suffered a reduction in income due to COVID-19. In addition to all of your other obligations and stressors, you may also owe spousal maintenance (alimony) to your former spouse. If it is modifiable (as opposed to non-modifiable) you may have the ability to reduce it, but how?

Here are some answers:

All spousal maintenance ordered by a court after a hearing is modifiable. Modifiable spousal maintenance can be reduced (or even eliminated) if you can prove a substantial and continuing change of circumstances. Sustained unemployment without a reasonable prospect for re-employment in the near future would likely count as one of those reasons.

You might have non-modifiable spousal maintenance if you and your ex agreed to this. Check your divorce settlement to see if the spousal maintenance is non-modifiable. If it is, then it is not subject to change unless your agreement provides for change under certain circumstances.

As long as you have modifiable spousal maintenance, you would file a petition with the court explaining the reason for the requested change. You would also need to file a financial affidavit listing your expenses and income along with other proof of income and expenses, for example a W-2, paystubs and possibly a tax return.

The courthouse is definitely open.  But hearings at this time are not being set until after April 17th.  Even then, it may very well be by telephone. Please see our link to Pima County Family Court policies currently in effect.

No matter when your case is heard, the court can order retroactive relief to the first day of the first month after you served your petition for relief on your ex.

While it may be tempting to just agree on a change based on a socially distanced handshake– don’t do it.  To be sure that the agreement is binding, you must submit the agreement in writing to the court.

This post is intended to highlight just certain portions of the Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure. It is not intended to substitute for professional legal advice on your specific case. McCarthy Family Law is a family law firm; however please check with your personal family law attorney for advice specific to your case. Or you can contact our office to speak to one of our family law attorneys to discuss how these rules may impact your specific case.

Message from McCarthy Family Law

McCarthy Family Law is here to help turn your stress into solutions. If you need help modifying your spousal support payment or if you have general questions about spousal maintenance, we are here to assist you during this time of uncertainty. At this time we are offering no charge initial phone consultations for those on the front lines, including medical professionals, first responders, law enforcement, and military personnel. Please call us at 520-623-0341 to explore your options.

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