What You Need to Know About Arizona’s New Spousal Maintenance Guidelines
- posted: Sep. 22, 2023
Alimony, formally known as spousal maintenance, has long been a gray area in Arizona divorce law. Unlike child support, for which Arizona has rigorous guidelines, spousal maintenance has historically been left to the discretion of individual judges, as to both eligibility for and amount and duration of awards. This has led to inconsistent decisions, with resulting unpredictability. But that is all likely to change, thanks to spousal maintenance guidelines that took effect this year.
The Arizona Supreme Court adopted the new guidelines on July 10, 2023. They apply retroactively to all divorce cases filed after September 24, 2022. Once the judge makes the determination that a party is eligible to receive spousal maintenance, the guidelines provide a range of options concerning the amount and length of such an award. Understanding these factors and how they apply to a particular case should bring consistency to Arizona rulings on spousal maintenance.
The purpose of the guidelines is to ensure that the amount and duration of spousal maintenance will provide enough money to allow the recipient to become self-sufficient. Some of the considerations that influence the guidelines’ calculations are the following:
- Length of the marriage
- Income of the parties
- Assets and debts
- Family size
- Age of the parties
The guidelines include protections for elderly and disabled parties. Once all of the factors are input into the calculator, the guidelines provide the judge with a range of options. The judge is free to deviate from the amount of maintenance specified in the guidelines. However, the judge may set the duration of maintenance only within the set ranges. This is designed to limit long-range maintenance awards.
While the guidelines should bring a degree of certainty to spousal maintenance awards, it will take time to see how these guidelines are applied and interpreted as cases make their way through the court system. If you are going through a divorce, speak with an experienced Arizona family law attorney who understands the new guidelines and who knows how to protect your interests.
Clark & Schloss Family Law, P.C. in Scottsdale, Arizona has dedicated its practice to family law, including spousal maintenance. We have a wide range of experience in the field. Please call 602-789-3497 or contact us online for a free initial consultation.