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How much alimonyand for how long is appropriate for me to get from my x-husband?: We were married 27 years, together 29. Have been separated 2.5 years now (not legally). We get along fine, but it's time to divorce. He has been giving me money since we have been separated. How much can I ask for, and for what period of time?

Asked about 4 years ago in Divorce

Gary’s answer: Spousal Maintenance, known in many other states as "Alimony," is the greyest of grey areas in Arizona Family Law. It is up to the judge to decide whether an award of alimony would be appropriate, based on an examination of the facts of your particular case. In making her/his decision, the judge will consider the factors listed in Arizona Revised Statutes, Section 25-319(A). Factors in that section include the length of the marriage; the age of the spouse seeking spousal maintenance; whether that spouse is able to be self-sufficient through employment; whether she/he has sufficient property to provide for her/his reasonable needs; and whether she/he is caring for a child whose age or condition makes it difficult or impossible to work. If the judge determines that one or more of the above factors applies, then spousal maintenance may be awarded.

Once the decision has been made to award spousal maintenance, the judge will then look to section B of the statute. The problem is that there is nothing in Section B that specifically tells the Court how much spousal maintenance to award, or for how many years it should be paid. Some of the most important factors in the statute include: The parties’ standard of living; how long they have been married; the comparative earning abilities of the parties; each party’s financial resources; the physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance; whether the spouse seeking maintenance contributed to the other’s educational expenses; whether she/he contributed to the other’s career and earning ability; whether she/he reduced her/his own income or career opportunities for the benefit of the other spouse (for example, staying home and raising the children). The court will also consider the money the spouse seeking maintenance will receive in the divorce, and how much it will cost that spouse to obtain health insurance.

Most spousal maintenance awards are considered “rehabilitative.” In other words, they are made for the purpose of giving the “needy” spouse “the time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment.” In rare cases, the court will award a spouse indefinite, or “lifetime” spousal maintenance.

Unlike the child support calculator, where you input data and it pops out the amount to be paid, there is absolutely nothing in the spousal maintenance statute that tells the judge how much the spousal maintenance payment should be -- or for how long it should be paid. Thus, the final result will depend on how each judge views the facts, and how he or she applies the statutory factors. This leaves the door open for wide variations in spousal maintenance awards.

The bottom line is this: It is important for a person seeking spousal maintenance to present a solid case using a "needs-based" analysis. Thorough preparation, good organization, and a persuasive presentation will give you the best chance for success. This is one area of law where a strong, experienced attorney can make an enormous difference.

I have written extensively about spousal maintenance on my Blog. You can see my most recent blog post at http://www.garyfranklawblog.com/search/label/Sp... .

The above is presented for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice pertaining to your particular case, nor should it be considered to have created an attorney-client relationship.

At the law firm of Gary J. Frank P.C., we have more than 30 years of experience in all matters pertaining to Family Law. For more information on our firm, take a look at our web site: www.garyfranklaw.com.

Answered about 4 years ago.


False Accusations of child abuse: What can I do legally to protect my 2yr old from her father? He is sending me text messages accusing my brother of "touching my daughter", because he discovered her area had a diaper rash. This rash has been diagnosed & prescribed medication by her DR. Her DR also recommended that she see a behavior therapist because her thumb sucking has gotten worse since she has been seeing her father consistently with our parenting plan that was in effect Nov. 2011. She has asthma & he smokes as do his parents whom he lives with. I have kept a "journal" of all this since Nov & now I am very concerned for her safety with him. Can anyone help me & my 2yr old???

Asked about 5 years ago in Child Custody

Gary’s answer: A false allegation of child abuse can lead to serious repercussions for the person who makes it. Judges take allegations of child abuse seriously and do everything in their power to protect the child. A false accusation muddies the waters and makes the job of protecting children even more difficult. That is why a false allegation of child abuse is so insidious. For a judge, there is nothing worse than a person who lies about a child having been abused. In the end, it can lead to the accuser losing custody and being criminally prosecuted for filing a false police report.

The Court will base its ultimate finding on the evidence. This includes reports of doctors, therapists, CPS, or any other person or agency who becomes involved. A journal can also be used as evidence and considered by the Court.

If you believe that a person is making a false claim of child abuse, you should thoroughly investigate the allegations and, if you feel certain that they are false, then you should take immediate action to prevent it, which might include a cease-and-desist letter from an attorney.

This response is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or representation. To understand your rights and obligations under the particular circumstances of your case, you should seek a legal consultation with an attorney of your choice.

Answered about 5 years ago.


Change visitation/custody but Don't know if I should file the changes in my state or hers?: My exwife lives in Montana and I live in Arizona and the divorced was filed thru the Montana court and I got served here in Arizona. this happened years ago in case you ask me. But, I need to change the visitation rights because she added exactly as follows, Supervised visitations only because father's legal status is the country is unsure. when at that time I was a temporary resident and now I am a U.S Citizen, I didn't drink, I didn't use drugs, I was not abusive or nothing, just a normal person working in a bank. I signed the divorce and done in order not to argue, for the last 10 years I've been asking her if I can take my daughter to Disneyland, Seaworld, if I can bring her home to play with my other duaughter and she refuses. I am done with it and i need to change the visitation

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Asked over 5 years ago in Child Custody

Gary’s answer: Since your divorce occurred in Montana and your ex-wife and child have resided there for several years, you will need to file your action to change custody/visitation in that state. The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) is a set of laws which is intended to be applied uniformly in all the states that have adopted it. The purpose is to prevent confusion and/or fighting between states in custody cases, and to help them determine which state should have the power to make the custody decision.

If you were to begin your custody case today, Montana would be considered the "Home State" of the child, since she has lived there with her mother for more than six months before the case was filed. Arizona would likely decline jurisdiction because the divorce occurred in Montana and the child has never lived in Arizona.

But even though you will have to file the action in Montana, it may be worthwhile to do so. You will be given the opportunity to prove that you are a U.S. citizen of good character, and a responsible person who loves his child. You may be required to start slowly and reestablish a relationship with your child, but if things go well your visitation could be expanded in the future, and maybe someday you and your daughter will be taking trips together to Disneyland and Seaworld.


The above answer is presented for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice pertaining to your particular case, nor should it be considered to have created an attorney-client relationship. For matters involving custody and parenting time, it is recommended that you contact an attorney for a legal consultation.

At the law firm of Gary J. Frank P.C., we have more than 30 years of experience in all matters pertaining to Family Law, including both litigation and mediation. For more information on our firm, take a look at our web site: www.garyfranklaw.com and our blog at www.garyfranklawblog.com.

Answered over 5 years ago.