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How Does Arizona Determine Spousal Maintenance/Alimony?

Law Office of Tad Davis Aug. 20, 2017

When one spouse makes more money than the other, he or she may need to pay the spouse “alimony” during or after a divorce proceeding which in Arizona is legally referred to as “spousal maintenance.”

These payments help the less well-off spouse deal with regular living expenses that he or she may not be able to pay on their own. When a couple divorces, the total amount of income that can be used for household expenses may change significantly. The higher earner in the relationship assists the lower earner by providing periodic payments.

Factors the Court Considers in Awarding Spousal Maintenance

The court will only award spousal maintenance if one spouse has financial needs that he or she cannot meet on their own. The other spouse must also have the ability to pay the alimony award as well. This need may exist if any of the following conditions are met.

  • One spouse does not have enough assets, even after the property distribution process in the divorce, to provide for his or her needs.

  • One spouse contributed to the other spouse’s educational opportunities during the marriage.

  • One spouse cannot support him or herself, even with appropriate employment.

  • The marriage was for a long duration and employment may not be a realistic opportunity at this point.

The court will take certain conditions into account as well, such as the current labor market and the individual’s skills and experience. Arizona courts are particularly mindful of spouses who have been homemakers during long marriages. These people are often unable to find suitable work because they have been out of the labor market for an extended period of time.

The court will also be mindful of who is taking care of young or disabled children as well. The custodial spouse may not be required to seek employment outside of the home, at least for a time, because of the needs of the children.

Formulas and Criteria

There is no formula for spousal maintenance that has been introduced as part of the law in Arizona. Thus, courts can use common ground approaches or develop their own way of examining the issue. However, even if judges create their own methods, they are required by law to take certain factors into account. The criteria include examining the following information:

  • The length of the marriage

  • The standard of living that the parties had during the marriage

  • The mental and physical state of the party requesting spousal maintenance

  • The experience, maturity, and capability to earn income of both spouses

  • The monetary income of both sides, including proportional capabilities to work

  • The ability of both parents to contribute to the educational expenses of their children in the future

  • Other financial resources available to meet the needs of the spouse seeking maintenance

  • Costs of health care for each spouse

  • Any criminal convictions that each spouse may have (particularly relating to judgments and orders for restitution)

  • The extent that one spouse has reduced income or opportunities to the benefit of the other spouse

  • Any waste or destruction of community assets

Each spousal support determination is a highly fact-intensive inquiry. Presenting your facts in the best light possible is vital to obtaining a favorable decision regarding spousal maintenance. The Law Office of Tad Davis can help you with this process. Call today for more information.