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Alimony in Arizona: Understand...

Alimony in Arizona: Understanding and Calculating Spousal Maintenance

Did you know there are over 800,000 divorces each year? If you’re going through a divorce, it’s important to remember that you aren’t alone. But be aware that issues related to alimony can get complicated fast.

Do you know how to navigate alimony in Arizona? For starters, in Arizona, it’s not even called alimony — it’s called spousal maintenance. 

What are the types of spousal support in Arizona? And how does the court calculate how much you’re required to give? Read on to learn the basics — and to learn if you’re going to need a lawyer.

Types of Alimony (Spousal Maintenance) in Arizona

Alimony, a.k.a. spousal maintenance, is money that one former spouse pays to the other after a divorce. The spouse that earns less money is paid by the spouse that earns more for typical living expenses. While alimony used to only go from husband to wife, this is no longer the case.

There are two types of spousal maintenance payments in Arizona. 

Temporary Spousal Maintenance

Temporary spousal maintenance is only given for a certain period of time. With “pendente lite” maintenance the spouse will receive maintenance during the divorce proceedings. This can either be ordered as a lump sum or monthly amount.

Permanent Spousal Maintenance

Permanent spousal maintenance is rare. Spousal support is really only meant to be in place until the spouse can provide for him or herself. But if one spouse can’t become self-supporting, such as due to disability or old age, they’ll receive permanent maintenance.

Realize that you only get one opportunity to apply or appeal spousal maintenance. It’s almost impossible to change a divorce agreement once it’s settled. So be sure to hire a divorce attorney before making any alimony decisions.

How Spousal Support in Arizona is Calculated

So, how are spousal maintenance payments in Arizona calculated? Well, the court determines if one spouse has a financial need that the other spouse can pay. The court does this through a two-step process.

Step 1: Qualification

First, the court must consider if a spouse is even qualified for spousal maintenance. It’s based on 4 factors:

  1. The spouse contributed to the other spouse’s education or career. This ensures any spouse that contributed to the other’s degree receives compensation.
  2. Property won’t provide for his or her needs. This includes property the spouse gains in the divorce. What’s being considered is not property value but actually the property’s income-earning potential.
  3. The spouse cannot earn enough through work. This also includes if the spouse must work at home because of a young or disabled child. The court considers the spouse’s health and efforts the spouse has made to get a job during the divorce proceedings.   
  4. There was a long marriage and the spouse is too old to be able to provide for him or herself. This is the most common case for permanent spousal support. Here, spouses are usually ages 50 and up.

If the spouse fulfills one or more of these criteria, spousal maintenance may be awarded. Then, the court needs to determine how much support the spouse needs and for what length of time.

Step 2: Analysis

There are 13 factors taken into consideration when determining spousal maintenance:

  1. The standard of living during the marriage. 
  2. Marriage duration. 
  3. Comparative financial resources, including how their earning abilities vary based on career prospects.
  4. How much the spouse contributed to the other’s earning ability. (See point 2 above).
  5. Age, earning ability, employment history, and the spouse’s physical and emotional condition. Here, we’re talking about the ability to earn, not current earnings. For example, having children will affect earning ability, but grown children will not.
  6. The ability of the other spouse to pay maintenance and maintain his or her own needs.
  7. The time the spouse needs to get enough education and/or training before they will be able to find a suitable job.
  8. How much the spouse reduced income or changed careers for the other spouse’s benefit.
  9. How well each one can contribute to mutual children’s future education costs.
  10. Financial resources of the spouse to meet needs independently.
  11. Cost for the spouse to get his or her own health care.
  12. Excessive spending, destruction, or concealing assets to pay less spousal maintenance.
  13. Any damages from a criminal conviction of a spouse where the other spouse or their child was the victim. This is typically for cases of abuse.

Contact Reppucci and Roeder Today!

As you can see, spousal maintenance in Arizona can be a complex issue. It’s best to consult with a divorce attorney to avoid paying too much, or receiving too little in spousal maintenance. After all, it’s very difficult to change these amounts after the divorce proceedings conclude. 

Reppucci and Roeder can help with all of your Arizona divorce and spousal maintenance needs. Call 480-300-6012 for your free consultation today!


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