Sole practitioner | 35+ years of experience | strong legal advocacy

Honest answers and
straightforward advice
request your free case evaluation

Spousal Maintenance Enforcement in Arizona

Posted By Legal Team | June 7 2022 | Firm News

Spousal maintenance, which you may often hear referred to as alimony, is an important part of the divorce and separation process if ordered in the divorce decree. Not every divorce will involve spousal maintenance, but when this is ordered, it must be paid on time and in the correct amount. Here, we want to discuss how spousal maintenance is enforced in Arizona.

What is Spousal Maintenance?

Spell maintenance is the money that one spouse pays to the other to financially support them while a divorce is ongoing, after the divorce, or both. In many marriages, one spouse earns a higher income, which can lead to financial disaster for the other spouse when separation occurs. This leaves the lower-earning spouse, a person that may not have had any job at all, with very few options when it comes to living.

When the lesser-earning spouse is unable to pay for their everyday living expenses, a judge may order the higher-earning spouse to contribute to the lesser-earning spouse financially for a certain period of time. There are various types of spousal maintenance, and you can see those discussed here.

Enforcing Spousal Maintenance

It is very important to point out that when spousal maintenance is ordered by a judge, this becomes a court order. Court orders are absolutely enforceable. Individuals who do not abide by a court order from the Arizona family court system could face both criminal and civil penalties. When we examine ARS § 25-511.01, we can see that violation of alimony, or spousal maintenance, is actually a Class 1 misdemeanor in Arizona.

In order for a prosecutor to prove that a person is guilty of not paying spousal maintenance in Arizona, there are various factors that must be taken into account. For a person to be found guilty of a criminal offense, they have to be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a higher bar than it is for a civil case. These elements that must be in place include:

  • An actual court order for spousal maintenance issued by a judge
  • The court’s order showing they told the defendant to pay spousal maintenance
  • Proof the defendant was notified about the order
  • The defendant willfully or intentionally disobeying the court order

Under Arizona law, a person convicted of failing to comply with a spousal maintenance court order can be sentenced to up to six months in jail.

Additionally, there are also civil penalties in place for failing to pay spousal maintenance. Any recipient spouse that has not received alimony payments can file a petition to enforce the order with the court. There will be a hearing scheduled after this petition is filed.

There are a variety of ways to enforce spousal maintenance payments, including the following:

  • Bank levies
  • Garnishment of wages
  • Property liens
  • Receiverships
  • Attachments
  • Writs of execution

Back payments will accrue interest until the debt is satisfied. This type of judgment cannot be discharged if the paying spouse declares bankruptcy.

If you should be receiving spousal maintenance, but the paying spouse is not sending the payments, you need to speak to an attorney as soon as possible.

Request a Consulation

  • *required fields
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

FULLY OPERATIONAL DURING COVID-19 CRISIS: We are OPEN. Telephone and Video Conferences Available. Close