Phoenix Spousal Maintenance / Alimony Lawyers

Phoenix Spousal Maintenance / Phoenix Alimony Attorneys

The term “alimony” is used in some states, while the term “spousal maintenance” is used in others. In Arizona we use the term spousal maintenance.

At Bishop, Del Vecchio & Beeks Law Office, P.C. our attorneys will provide you with initial feedback regarding spousal maintenance (whether we believe that you are eligible for such award, or whether you may need to pay spousal maintenance) during your consultation. If you have any questions, or if you would like to inquire about our services pertaining to spousal maintenance, please call (602) 749-8500 to get in touch with one of our Phoenix spousal support attorneys or visit either of our two Valley locations in Phoenix and Tempe.

Summary of Content

What is Spousal Maintenance?

After a party files divorce proceedings,  the court may award spousal maintenance in an amount and for a duration necessary to assist the spouse to become financially “self-sufficient” based upon a number of statutory factors. Spousal maintenance is only awarded in divorce cases. If parties were never married, you cannot get spousal maintenance in Arizona. Pursuant to Arizona law it is not supposed to matter whether you are male or female in determining whether a party is entitled to spousal maintenance or has to pay spousal maintenance.

The factors that a Court must consider in determining if a party is eligible for spousal maintenance, and the amount and duration, is governed by statute – i.e. Arizona Revised Statute Section 25-319.  To view a copy of Arizona Revised Statute Section 25-319, click here.  Our family law attorneys in Phoenix and Tempe are happy to assist you with all aspects of the spousal maintenance case whether you are requesting such an award or defending against the other party who is requesting such award.

Prior to 2023, there was no formula in Arizona to apply to spousal maintenance cases. As of September 24, 2022, the Arizona Legislature amended the spousal maintenance statute to include guidelines that will provide a presumed range for the amount of spousal maintenance awards and duration of such awards if a party is found both eligible and entitled to such an award. The new guidelines once adopted will include a calculator similar to the Child Support Guidelines which will determine the range of a potential spousal maintenance awards based primarily upon the parties’ incomes, duration of marriage, standardized expenses and related factors. A preliminary draft of the new spousal maintenance guidelines and spousal maintenance calculator has been drafted and presented by the appointed committee and is currently being reviewed by the Supreme Court of Arizona. A current copy of the draft which has not yet been adopted.

Our Phoenix alimony lawyers / Phoenix spousal maintenance lawyers are well versed in making claims for spousal maintenance and defending against claims for spousal maintenance. Leave your claims in the hands of our experienced spousal maintenance lawyers.

Will I Have To Pay Spousal Maintenance / Alimony?

Spousal maintenance is dictated by statute and case law.  The Court has a certain amount of discretion  regarding whether a party is entitled to spousal maintenance, how much will be ordered or how long such will be ordered.  The Arizona Spousal Maintenance Guidelines, which as noted above are in the process of being reviewed, allow for a deviation from the guidelines to the extent that an award may be “unjust”. In rendering our initial analysis regarding somebody may be entitled to spousal maintenance or whether somebody may have to pay spousal maintenance, some cases are more obvious than others. Some cases may fall more in a gray area, such as short marriages, where the spouse’s incomes or ability to earn is not materially different, and cases where the spouse requesting spousal maintenance has other resources to meet his or her reasonable needs.   Our attorneys are very experienced in these types of cases and can generally give you our very honest and objective opinion regarding what to expect based upon the facts in your case.

Entitlement to Spousal Maintenance

You can see the full text of A.R.S. Section 25-319 by clicking here.

In short, according to A.R.S. §25-319(A), the party seeking support must meet one or more of the following criteria to be eligible to receive spousal support following a divorce:

  1. Whether a party can meet their reasonable needs through appropriate employment.
  2. Whether a party has property interests that will meet or help them meet their reasonable needs.
  3. Whether a party is disabled and unable to work.
  4. Whether a party has young children and should be allowed to stay home or work part-time.
  5. Whether one of the parties made significant contributions to the educational, career opportunities or earning ability of the other spouse.
  6. Whether the parties had a long marriage and party seeking support is of an age that may preclude adequate employment.
  7. Whether a party significantly reduced their income or career opportunities for the benefit of the other spouse.

Just because a party meets one of the eligibility requirements does not automatically mean that the Court will enter a spousal maintenance award. Rather, such means the requesting party is eligible for a spousal maintenance guidelines analysis to be addressed by the court in their case, to address the factors set forth in the other subsection of the statute regarding amount and duration of the requested award, and thus “possibly” obtain such an award. Some cases are more obvious than others – i.e. where a higher earning party clearly has the ability to pay spousal maintenance and can still afford his / her own personal expenses, while the spouse in need is no where close to being self-sufficient. On the other hand, there are cases where neither party has sufficient financial resources to pay the other party. In such case the Court could potentially determine that both parties face challenging financial challenges and thus could deny a spousal maintenance request or limit it to a smaller amount that the Court feels the other party can afford.

Determining Payment Amount

The amount and duration of a spousal maintenance award is to be determined pursuant to the factors set forth in subsection B of the same statute, i.e. A.R.S. §25-319(B). The key language under the new amendments to the statute set forth in A.R.S. §25-319(B) is that “the court may award spousal maintenance pursuant to the guidelines only for a period of time and in an amount necessary to enable the receiving spouse to become self-sufficient”.   Once the new guidelines have been approved, and if a party is determined not to be self-sufficient, the court is directed by the statute to award only the amount of spousal maintenance shown by the guidelines unless the court determines if such amount would be inappropriate or unjust, whereupon the court may deviate from the guidelines.  Whether the guidelines amount may be considered unjust and thus whether a deviation may be appropriate, is determined based upon the following summarized factors.

  1. The standard of living during the marriage (a higher standard of living may convince the court that a deviation could be justified).
  2. How long the parties were married (generally, the longer the marriage the longer the spousal maintenance award).
  3. The age, employment history, earning ability, physical and emotional condition of the parties (this of course goes to whether a spouse can obtain adequate employment to meet his or her own reasonable financial needs).
  4. Whether the other party can pay spousal maintenance and still meet his or her own reasonable needs.
  5. Whether one of the parties makes more money or has more property than the other party.
  6. Whether one of the parties contributed to the other spouse’s educational and/or career opportunities.
  7. Whether one of the parties sacrificed his or her own income or career opportunities for the benefit of the other spouse.
  8. The time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to obtain appropriate employment, and whether this is possible.
  9. Whether one of the parties wasted or hid community assets or property.

Pursuant to the new amendment to the spousal maintenance statute, the court may only deviate from the amount of spousal maintenance to be ordered, not the duration range set forth by the spousal maintenance guidelines.

Can I Receive Lifetime Spousal Maintenance in Arizona?

The term “lifetime” spousal maintenance is rarely if ever used by the Court.  The new guidelines have directed that such term no longer be used. The term “indefinite spousal maintenance” regards an award without a termination date. This means that the person paying spousal maintenance has to continue making such payments until his or her circumstances substantially change (such as retirement), and then only if the spousal maintenance award is modified or terminated by the court. Indefinite spousal maintenance awards may apply if the party requesting spousal maintenance is older, disabled, has been married a lengthy period of time and does not have the ability to become self-sufficient  This type of spousal maintenance award is limited to rare cases (such as permanently disabled spouses) pursuant to the new spousal maintenance guidelines.

Marital Misconduct

Arizona’s spousal maintenance statute makes it clear that in making spousal maintenance awards courts cannot consider marital misconduct with the exception of the potential consideration of fraudulent or excessive transfers of funds or concealment of property or funds. Thus, events that happened during the marriage such as spousal infidelity (cheating on your spouse), physical or emotional abuse etc.,  are not relevant to the issue of spousal maintenance unless one can show monetary damages associated with such conduct.

Spousal Maintenance Practice Tips

A good family law attorney / divorce attorney can help you present your most persuasive case to the Court regarding the amount and duration of spousal maintenance – whether you are requesting spousal maintenance or challenging the other party’s request for spousal maintenance. Substantial trial experience can be very helpful in presenting your best case.

We have put together an extremely helpful set of Spousal Maintenance Tips for Attorneys or self-represented parties in this article written by William D. Bishop, Managing Partner of Bishop, Del Vecchio & Beeks Law Office, P.C.

Modification of Spousal Maintenance

Click here to review our website section regarding whether you may modify your current spousal maintenance award or whether such award may be terminated.