Scottsdale Alimony Lawyers Negotiate Fair Spousal Maintenance Agreements
Counseling those who receive alimony and those who pay it
In September 2022, Arizona revised the state’s laws governing spousal maintenance: the official term for alimony. It did so with three goals in mind: to shift the emphasis away from life-long awards to shorter term support that enables the dependent spouse to become self-sufficient, to achieve greater uniformity in alimony awards for couples in similar circumstances and to promote settlements rather than compelling parties to litigate the matter. As a result, judges will have less discretion to deviate from prescribed guidelines for the amount and duration of spousal maintenance. At Clark & Schloss Family Law, P.C., we work hard to negotiate an arrangement that meets your goals — whether you expect to be receiving alimony or paying it.
The different types of alimony
In most cases, spousal maintenance is temporary, but it can be permanent depending on the length of the marriage and the age of the spouse seeking maintenance. Further, spousal maintenance can be non-modifiable in amount and duration or can be modifiable depending on the circumstances of the parties. It may be advisable to have an insurance policy in place in case something happens to the spouse whose responsibility it is to pay spousal maintenance.
There are two basic types of spousal maintenance:
- Rehabilitative — This is a common type of temporary alimony that’s paid for the period of time it takes a spouse to learn the skills needed to find a job.
- Permanent — Most support payments are temporary, but a judge may award permanent alimony as part of the divorce order if the dependent spouse won’t be able to work because of age, disability or other circumstances.
There are multiple ways in which spousal maintenance can be structured, including:
- Lump-sum payments — Unlike most support payments, which are monthly, a lump sum is a single payment with no expectation that any more money will be paid.
- Step payments — Spousal maintenance payments are tiered in a manner that is reduced over the duration.
- Straight payments — Spousal maintenance payments stay the same on a monthly basis for the duration.
Find out more about how long alimony lasts in Arizona divorce.
Qualifying for spousal maintenance in Arizona
Under Arizona law, a spouse is eligible for maintenance if their situation involves the following factors:
- Lacks sufficient property to provide for their reasonable needs
- Lacks adequate earning ability
- The requesting spouse is the custodial parent of a child whose age or condition demands full attention
- The requesting spouse has made a significant contribution to, and/or sacrificed their own career advancement for, the earning ability/career of the other spouse
- Their marriage was of long duration and they are of an age that may preclude adequate, gainful employment
A spouse who is eligible for alimony is not automatically approved for an award. The court will use the state’s spousal maintenance calculator to determine the amount.
The Arizona spousal maintenance calculator
The purpose of the spousal maintenance calculator is to create greater consistency in alimony awards. Data needed for the calculation include:
- Number of family members (the parties and any children they are legally obligated to support)
- Parties’ combined annual income from all sources
- Average monthly mortgage principal for the marital residence
- Amounts of fixed expenses, such as health insurance, utilities, housing, food and transportation
Using the data above, the calculator will then provide a preliminary target range. The court can make an award within this target range, but may deviate based on statutory factors and case-specific facts.
Deviations from Arizona spousal maintenance ranges
A judge may deviate from the preliminary target range if one spouse pays more than half of the specified expenses entered in the spousal maintenance calculator or if there are additional extraordinary expenses. In addition, a judge can take notice of various statutory factors, such as the standard of living during the marriage, length of the marriage, age, employment history, earning ability and physical/emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance.
A judge who finds cause to deviate from the preliminary target range may submit written findings stating what the order would have been without the deviation, why that amount is inappropriate or unjust and what the ordered amount is.
Call today to make an appointment with a Scottsdale alimony lawyer
With more than four decades of combined experience, the attorneys at Clark & Schloss Family Law, P.C. can help you to obtain a fair alimony arrangement, whether you are the recipient or the payer. Call 602-789-3497 or contact us online today for a consultation at our Scottsdale office. We are located on Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard, just off Highway 101.