Knowledgeable Family Law Attorneys Explain Qualifications for Alimony in Arizona
Scottsdale divorce lawyers skilled in resolving spousal maintenance issues
Divorce can be financially difficult if you rely on your spouse’s income to support you. Arizona divorce courts have the power to require your spouse to pay you alimony — known in Arizona as spousal maintenance — during or after the divorce (or both) if you establish eligibility. On the other hand, spouses who are capable of living on their own without financial support may not need alimony. At Clark & Schloss Family Law, P.C. in Scottsdale, our knowledgeable, client-oriented attorneys can determine whether you or your spouse meets the qualifications for alimony and will represent you in seeking or opposing it.
Who qualifies for alimony in Arizona?
Before awarding you alimony, the court must determine whether you need it, taking into account whether you:
- Have insufficient property, after the marital property is distributed, to support yourself
- Are unable to obtain employment that will make you self-sufficient because, for instance, you are too long out of the job market or must care for a young child
- Helped increase your spouse’s earning capacity by contributing to the cost of his or her education, training or vocational skills
- Have significantly decreased your own income or career opportunities to benefit your spouse
If your spouse is seeking to charge you with alimony, you must demonstrate his or her lack of need as well as your inability to pay. No matter which side you are on, you can count on our alimony attorneys in Scottsdale to present the strongest evidence we can in favor of your position.
How much alimony can I expect to get and how long will it last?
If you qualify for alimony, the amount awarded will depend on several factors, including:
- The same factors used to decide if you qualify
- Your marital standard of living
- You and your spouse’s age, health, earning capacity and relative financial resources
- Your spouse’s ability to afford to pay alimony
- The marriage’s duration
- You or your spouse’s bad faith and criminal conduct
Often, we are able to negotiate an agreement on the amount with your spouse but, if not, we are always prepared to go to court to seek the spousal maintenance you deserve.
How the Arizona spousal maintenance calculator works
The spousal maintenance calculator is designed to make results more predictable, just as the child support calculator has done for child support awards. The calculation requires four pieces of information:
- Family size — This number includes the two spouses and any child for whom at least one of the parties has a legal obligation to support. A court order is not required to prove the obligation. This number does not include disabled family members, parents or stepchildren who depend on one or both of the parties.
- Annual income — This is the combined annual income from all sources for both parties and may include attributed income, determined by the court and based on the party’s earning ability. Known as spousal maintenance income, this amount might also include property and assets, which can require complex calculation.
- Monthly mortgage principal — This is not your total mortgage payment for your marital residence but rather the principal portion of that payment, averaged over the previous 12 months.
- Expenditures — Based on the data above, the calculator generates an approximate average of the costs for one adult and one-half of the family indivisible expenditures.
From these data, the calculator provides a total household amount, sort of a budget based on necessary expenditures, which is divided in proportion to each spouse’s share of the annual income.
Finally, the calculator subtracts the recipient spouse’s portion of the expenditures from the total, leaving the paying spouse’s share. This is presented as a final target range, spanning the lower to the upper limit of what the court can order.
A judge can still deviate from the calculated amount to order a payment outside the final target range, but must present a written decision citing the reasons for the deviation, which could include statutory factors, such as either party’s age, employment history, earning ability, financial resources, duties as a custodial parent or any other relevant factor that justifies an exception.
Modification of spousal maintenance
Unless you’ve signed an agreement that prohibits it, you may ask the court to modify an alimony order after the divorce. Examples of situations that might merit modification include:
- A change in your employment status or income level
- Your spouse becoming able to pay more or, if the recipient, becoming self-sufficient
- Increases in your or your spouse’s necessary expenses
- You and your spouse agreeing to a change
Whether you seek or oppose a modification, we will be strong advocates for you.
Are alimony payments tax deductible in Arizona?
Before 2019, you could deduct alimony payments you made or taxes you were required to pay on payments you received. Since 2019, however, alimony is no longer taxable or tax deductible. We can advise you on the tax consequences of alimony in your case in more detail.
Failure to pay spousal maintenance in Arizona
If your ex-spouse isn’t paying you the alimony that was ordered or agreed to, you have several ways to enforce the order, including:
- Suspending their driving, professional or recreational licenses until they pay
- Reporting the debt to credit reporting agencies
- Putting liens on their property
- Asking the court to seize their property
We are ready to take quick and decisive action to make sure your alimony is paid.
Contact dedicated Arizona alimony attorneys for a consultation
For reliable advice and representation on alimony and other family law issues, call Clark & Schloss Family Law, P.C. at 602-789-3497 or contact us online to schedule a consultation at our office, located on Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard in Scottsdale.