How Are Spousal Support Payments Calculated?

Spousal support, also known as alimony or spousal maintenance, can be ordered by the court in divorce cases. Spousal support is granted when one party can demonstrate the need for ongoing financial assistance and the other party can provide funding. Spousal maintenance disputes usually occur when there is a significant disparity in the wealth and/or earnings capacity between spouses.

Arizona recognizes three different types of spousal support:

  • Pendente lite support — Financial assistance that only lasts while the divorce case is ongoing. It’s designed to meet the recipient’s immediate needs.
  • Temporary or rehabilitative support — The purpose of temporary support is to provide the recipient spouse the time and money needed to become financially independent. The recipient spouse may use the funding to pay current expenses while furthering their education or improving marketable work skills.
  • Permanent support — This type of support lasts for life, unless the recipient remarries. Permanent support is rarely awarded unless the recipient is of an age and/or has a medical condition that precludes the individual from working and has little income from other sources.

Once the requestor has proven the need for a certain type of spousal support, the court must then determine the appropriate amount and duration. If the parties cannot agree on a reasonable amount and duration, the court decides the matter, considering the following factors:

  • Each spouse’s assets after property distribution
  • Each spouse’s income/income potential
  • Any sacrifices one spouse made to enhance the other’s education or career opportunities, such as running the home instead of continuing their career
  • The length of the marriage
  • Each spouse’s financial needs
  • A spouse’s ability to pay for maintenance over a period of months or years
  • Amounts each spouse expects to spend on education for any dependent children of the marriage
  • The couple’s lifestyle in the later years of the marriage
  • A dependent spouse’s ability to achieve financial independence
  • The time and potential cost for a dependent spouse to complete any training, education or internships that would lead to financial independence
  • The effects of any spousal misconduct

There is no set formula for alimony (although spousal maintenance guidelines are being finalized to become law in the near future). The court must order an amount that is fair, just and reasonable under the circumstances.

The parties are also free to negotiate their own spousal maintenance agreement, setting the amount, duration and including provisions for modification or termination of financial support. The court will review the agreement for fundamental fairness. Most negotiated support contracts will be accepted and become an order of the court.

Clark & Schloss Family Law, P.C. in Scottsdale, Arizona is one of the most respected family law firms in Maricopa County. If you need assistance with a spousal support matter, feel free to contact us online or call 602-789-3497 for an initial consultation.