How Alimony is Calculated in Arizona
There are problems with Arizona alimony calculators. In fact, an Arizona alimony calculator does not exist in Arizona.
However, a formula for calculating alimony was created many years ago. The formula also suggested the length of time alimony should be awarded.
The formula was created to eliminate confusion regarding how much alimony a judge may award.
It was also created to determine how long alimony should be paid.
Before the calculation was created, there were large fluctuations in spousal support awards from judges.
An attorney in Tucson sent a letter to judges in Pima and Maricopa County.
The letter contained a fictitious set of facts to judges.
The judges were asked to comment on what they would order given those fake facts.
The responses from the Superior Court judges were anywhere from an award of lifetime spousal maintenance to no award of spousal maintenance.
This created the desire to have some spousal maintenance guidelines.
Guidelines would provide guidance on the amount and duration of alimony awards.
However, the Arizona Court of Appeals later ruled those guidelines have no legal effect in Arizona.
The court ruled that the guidelines were not passed into law by the Arizona legislature. As a result, they were not the law in Arizona.
Judges, therefore, could not rely upon the guidelines when ordering alimony.
Despite that fact, attorneys and judges seem to rely on the formula in resolving spousal maintenance cases in Arizona.
So, the good news is there is some uniformity in calculating spousal maintenance awards.
Spousal Maintenance Formula in Arizona
The formula requires you to determine the difference between the spouses’ incomes.
Let’s say one spouse earns $10,000.00 a month. The other spouse earns $3,000.00 a month.
The difference in their earnings is $7,000.00 a month.
You take that $7,000.00 difference and give the lower-earning spouse anywhere between 15% to 25% of that difference.
In this example, 15% of the difference would be $1,050.00 (15% of $7,000.00). Applying 25% to the difference would result in an award of $1,750.00 (25% of $7,000.00).
So, the range for spousal maintenance would be somewhere between $1,050.00 to $1,750.00 a month.
The percentage chosen (between 15% and 25%) depends on many factors.
One such factor is the length of the marriage. A longer marriage may result in gravitating to a higher percentage (i.e., closer to 25%).
The standard of living during the marriage is another factor a court must consider.
The alimony calculation then needs to determine how long spousal maintenance should be paid.
The formula provided the alimony award should be between 30% to 50% of the length of the marriage.
There are many factors affecting whether the duration should be closer to 30% or 50% of the length of the marriage.
This formula for calculating spousal maintenance is very simplistic.
You cannot blindly rely upon the formula and should consult with an experienced Arizona alimony attorney.
The attorneys at Hildebrand Law, PC have handled many spousal maintenance cases.
We will analyze all of the spousal maintenance factors to provide you with more accurate information regarding spousal maintenance in your case.
Factors for Calculating Alimony Awards in Arizona
If you are the main financial provider in your household, you may be responsible for paying alimony to your spouse.
Consequently, if you were a stay at home parent you may be entitled to alimony.
A spouse who has not worked for many years may be entitled to alimony.
The Court of Appeals in Boyle vs. Boyle ruled a court may award alimony to a spouse who is working full time.
However, the court will also consider how much investment income that spouse will receive from the assets divided in the divorce.
The investment return may affect a claim for alimony.
A spouse who otherwise may have been award alimony may have that claim denied.
For example, a spouse who squandered a significant amount of money during the marriage may be denied alimony.
At a minimum, it may lower the amount and/or duration of an alimony award.
Other Reasons a Court May Award Alimony in Arizona
There are other reasons a court may award spousal maintenance.
The court will consider the length of the marriage. The court will consider if a spouse is too old to return to work.
A court may award alimony to a parent whose children are so young that the parent should not work.
You can find various divorce alimony calculators online.
They will ask for general information and will spit out numbers. These numbers do not consider the various factors a judge will consider.
So, be very wary about relying on any online alimony calculators in Arizona.
The problem with alimony calculators is they do not give you an accurate answer regarding your entitlement to alimony.
We suggest you simply ignore them.
How Spousal Maintenance is Calculated in Arizona
We are often asked how is spousal maintenance calculated in Arizona. The calculation of spouse maintenance determines how much spouse maintenance is awarded, as well as how long that spousal maintenance will be paid from one spouse to the other spouse in a divorce in Arizona.
We are going to discuss all of the factors a divorce judge is required to consider when spousal maintenance is calculated in Arizona, including:
- The lifestyle and standard of living established during the marriage
- The length of the marriage
- The age of the spouse seeking alimony, employment history, earning capacity, physical and mental condition, etc
- The potential of the spouse being petitioned meeting both spousal maintenance requirements and their own financial needs
- Whether the spouse seeking maintenance contributed to the earning capacity of their spouse during the marriage
- Whether the spouse seeking maintenance’s career or income opportunities were limited for the benefit of their spouse
- The potential financial contribution of both parties for the child’s future educational needs
- Whether or not excessive spending is evident on the part of one of the parties
- Whether or not either party concealed or attempted to conceal community property
Arizona Spousal Maintenance Calculations Consider the Standard of Living During the Marriage
The Arizona law on awards of spousal maintenance required a judge to consider the lifestyle or standard of living a married couple enjoyed during their marriage when calculating child support in Arizona. So, it is important that you or your attorney present evidence to establish the standard of living you and your spouse enjoyed during your marriage.
For example, the court will consider the size and cost of the home you lived in during your marriage. The court will also consider the types of vehicles you and your spouse drove during the marriage. A judge will also consider the amount of money you and your spouse spent on clothes, the amount spent by the spouse eating at restaurants, and the frequency and cost of family vacations among other things.
So, yes, the standard of living you and your spouse enjoyed during the marriage can directly impact the amount and duration of a spousal maintenance award in Arizona.
Arizona Spousal Maintenance Calculations Consider the Length of Your Marriage
Arizona spousal maintenance laws also require a divorce judge to consider the length of your marriage when deciding the amount and duration of spousal maintenance in an Arizona divorce. Longer-term marriages warrant higher awards of spousal maintenance for longer periods of time than short term marriages in most cases.
Most judges consider marriages of less than 8 years to be relatively short term marriage; thus a lesser amount of spousal maintenance should be paid for a shorter period of time.
Most judges consider marriages of 9 to 15 years in length to be marriages of moderate during; thus a moderate amount of spouse maintenance for a moderate length of time.
While most judges consider marriages over 15 years in length to long term marriages; thus a larger amount of spousal maintenance for a longer period of time.
Arizona Spousal Maintenance Calculations Consider Age, Income, and Health
Arizona law requires a judge to consider the age, income, and health of the spouse seeking spousal maintenance when calculating spousal maintenance in Arizona.
A younger person going through a divorce has a lot more opportunity to increase their earning potential than an older spouse.
All things being equal, a younger person seeking spousal maintenance is likely to receive much less spousal maintenance for a shorter period of time than, say, someone is approaching retirement age.
Arizona spousal maintenance calculations also require a judge to consider how much income a spouse can earn to support themselves, as well as whether a spouse has a health issue that either precludes him or her from working or which substantially impacts how many hours that spouse may be able to work when calculating how much spousal maintenance should be paid from one spouse to the other.
Arizona Spousal Maintenance Calculations Include a Spouse’s Contribution to the Other Spouse’s Earnings
Arizona spousal maintenance laws require a judge to consider if one spouse contributed to the other spouse’s ability to earn an income. For example, the court could consider awarding spousal maintenance to a wife who paid the bills while the husband obtained a professional degree during the marriage if that degree increased the amount the husband now earns.
Although a court will consider such contributions from one spouse to the earning ability of the other spouse, a good divorce attorney will also point out if the amount of community assets available to divide between the spouses has substantially increased from those efforts to offset the impact of this particular factor on the calculation of spousal maintenance in Arizona
Whether a Spouse Had to Forgo Career for the Benefit of His or Her Spouse
A judge must also consider whether the spouse seeking spousal maintenance had to forgo his or her career for the benefit of the other spouse pursuing his or her career. It is important to demonstrate to the court what opportunities a spouse seeking spousal maintenance was not able to pursue, as well as what that spouse’s plan will be to pursue a career if an award of spousal maintenance is awarded.
A spouse seeking spousal maintenance, therefore, should be prepared to present evidence on what education will be necessary to start a career, the length of time it will take to complete that education, the cost of pursuing that education, and the living expenses that spouse will incur while attending school. This evidence allows the court to consider all of those costs when calculating spousal maintenance in Arizona.
Contributions Towards Children’s College Expenses
It is important to know Arizona law does not allow a divorce judge to order the parents to pay for their children’s college expenses. This is so because children are considered to be emancipated adults when they turn 18 years of age. Despite that, a judge may still consider children’s college expenses, as well as each parent’s contribution to those college expenses, when calculating spousal maintenance in Arizona.
It is important, therefore, to present evidence to the court to establish how much college expenses will be for the children if they attend college. It is also important to present evidence regarding each parent’s financial ability to pay those college expenses whenever a judge calculates spousal maintenance.
A Spouse’s Excessive Spending During the Marriage
Arizona law requires the court to consider whether a spouse spent family money excessively during the marriage. It is difficult to clearly define what constitutes excessive spending as every family has its own unique spending. However, some cases of excessive spending are very clear.
A judge, therefore, can limit the amount and duration of spousal maintenance to a spouse who is guilty of excessive spending in an Arizona divorce.
Whether a Spouse Attempted to or Actually Concealed Community Property
A spousal maintenance calculation takes into account whether a spouse either attempted to conceal community property or has actually concealed that community property. An example of such a situation could occur when a spouse has been purchasing business or property interests in another country but refuses to provide the court or their spouse with documentation proving the value of those assets. A trial judge could, in such a situation, order that spouse to pay the other spouse spousal maintenance in such amount and for such duration as the judge see fit.
If you need information about calculating alimony in Arizona, you should seriously consider contacting the attorneys at Hildebrand Law, PC. Our Arizona alimony attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience successfully representing clients in alimony cases in Arizona.
Our family law firm has earned numerous awards such as US News and World Reports Best Arizona Family Law Firm, US News and World Report Best Divorce Attorneys, “Best of the Valley” by Arizona Foothills readers, and “Best Arizona Divorce Law Firms” by North Scottsdale Magazine.
Call us today at (480)305-8300 or reach out to us through our appointment scheduling form to schedule your personalized consultation and turn your Arizona alimony case around today.
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Chris Hildebrand wrote the information on this page about problems with alimony calculators in Arizona to ensure everyone has access to information about the divorce process in Arizona. Chris is a family law attorney at Hildebrand Law, PC. He has over 24 years of Arizona family law experience and has received multiple awards, including US News and World Report “Top Arizona Divorce Attorneys”, Phoenix Magazine “Top Divorce Law Firms”, and Arizona Foothills Magazine “Best of the Valley” award.