How Long Does Alimony Last in Arizona?

Accomplished Scottsdale divorce lawyers handle spousal maintenance issues

Before going through a divorce, people might have misconceptions about alimony that are based on how the subject is often portrayed in movies and on television. In practice, alimony — known as spousal maintenance in Arizona — is usually for a limited duration, which can be a relatively short time. If you’re wondering how long alimony lasts in Arizona, the attorneys at Clark & Schloss Family Law, P.C. can discuss the factors considered by Arizona judges and explain how the law might be applied in your case.

How long do most alimony payments last?

Traditionally, an award of permanent alimony would last until the death of one party or the remarriage of the recipient spouse. Recent revisions in Arizona alimony law have emphasized the state’s preference for rehabilitative alimony, which involves payments of a limited duration to allow the recipient spouse to become self-supporting. Today, Arizona courts use the spousal maintenance calculator to determine the amount and duration of these payments, though judges have some discretion to deviate from the calculated award.

Factors used in calculating alimony duration in Arizona

The primary factor in the duration of alimony is the length of the marriage:

  • Marriage lasting less than 24 months — Up to 24 months maintenance
  • Marriage lasting 24-60 months — Up to 36 months maintenance
  • Marriage lasting 60-120 months — Up to 48 months maintenance
  • Marriage lasting 120-192 months — Up to 60 months maintenance
  • Marriage lasting more than 192 months — Up to 92 months maintenance

Judges may not deviate from the calculated duration, unless there is a Rule of 65 exception or a permanent disability. The Rule of 65 means when the age of the party seeking maintenance plus the length of the marriage exceeds 65, the duration range above will not apply. The recipient spouse must be at least 42, the marriage must have lasted 16 years and the combination of those two numbers must be equal to or greater than 65. If the recipient spouse has a permanent disability, courts will determine the duration on a case-by-case basis.

Can spousal maintenance in Arizona be permanent?

Typically, post-divorce spousal maintenance is designed to be rehabilitative, meaning it should last only as long as it takes for someone who relied on their spouse’s income to gain the skills and experience needed to support themselves. Rehabilitative maintenance might last a few years while the recipient returns to school or trains in a new field.

However, a permanent award is possible in the case of a lengthy marriage where an older spouse who has not worked cannot be expected to become self-supporting, or where a spouse is disabled.

Marital agreements and alimony

A valid Arizona prenuptial agreement can set forth the duration of alimony payments or eliminate them completely. For many prospective spouses, this is a key reason to create such a contract. However, if you believe that you were misled into signing a prenuptial agreement or that the terms of your agreement are so unconscionable that the court should refuse to enforce it, our Scottsdale alimony lawyers can examine the situation and advise you on how to protect your interests.

Factors that may end alimony payments

Recipients who remarry or move in with a new romantic partner give up their right to collect alimony from their former spouse. The death of either spouse will terminate alimony payments. However, a divorce order might include a provision that requires the paying ex-spouse to purchase a life insurance policy naming their former wife or husband as the beneficiary.

Modifications that can affect how long alimony will last in Arizona

Spousal maintenance can be modified if circumstances change and the paying party is unable to abide by the existing order. For example, if an accident or illness prevents someone from working, the court can cut short the timeframe during which they must provide alimony. Likewise, the payer’s involuntary job loss might compel a judge to change the spousal maintenance end date.

Contact an Arizona attorney to discuss your alimony issue in a consultation

Clark & Schloss Family Law, P.C. represents Arizona clients in alimony matters during the divorce process and after the marriage is dissolved. You can call 602-789-3497 or contact us online to make an appointment for a consultation at our office on Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard in Scottsdale.