Working With the Spousal Maintenance Guidelines in Arizona
A lot of people have asked us how do the Arizona spousal maintenance guidelines work.
We are going to answer that important question for you.
The Arizona Spousal Maintenance Guidelines were reviewed and approved on October 16, 2002, by the Maricopa County Superior Court.
However, those guidelines did not last long.
The Arizona Court of Appeals ruled the guidelines were not signed into law by the Governor.
They are not a part of the spousal maintenance statute (i.e. A.R.S. 25-319).
As a result, they are not the law in Arizona. Judges, therefore, cannot use them to establish spousal support awards.
Why the Spousal Maintenance Guidelines Were Created
The Arizona Spousal Maintenance Guidelines were created after the release of a study by an Arizona attorney.
That attorney sent a set of fictitious facts to various judges across the state of Arizona.
She then asked those judges to share what they would give in spousal maintenance awards based upon those fictitious facts.
The answers from the judges ranged from no spousal support to lifetime spousal maintenance.
This unofficial study revealed that awards of alimony were all over the board.
Thus, began an attempt to create normalcy in Arizona spousal maintenance cases.
Factors to Receive Spousal Maintenance in Arizona
Spousal maintenance cases are complex. There are four factors a court must consider to determine if it should award spousal maintenance.
Specifically, the court must consider the following factors when deciding if a spouse is entitled to alimony:
- Lacks sufficient property, including property apportioned to the spouse, to provide for that spouse’s reasonable needs.
- Is unable to be self-sufficient through appropriate employment or is the custodian of a child whose age or condition is such that the custodian should not be required to seek employment outside the home or lacks earning ability in the labor market adequate to be self-sufficient.
- Has made a significant financial or other contribution to the education, training, vocational skills, career or earning ability of the other spouse.
- Had a marriage of long duration and is of an age that may preclude the possibility of gaining employment adequate to be self-sufficient.
- Has significantly reduced that spouse’s income or career opportunities for the benefit of the other spouse.
Factors to Determine the Amount and Duration of Spousal Maintenance in Arizona
If the court determines spousal maintenance should be awarded, there are then thirteen factors the court must consider when determining the amount and duration of that award.
Specifically, the court must consider the following factors when deciding the amount and period of time it will be paid:
- The standard of living established during the marriage.
- The duration of the marriage.
- The age, employment history, earning ability and physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance.
- The ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to meet that spouse’s needs while meeting those of the spouse seeking maintenance.
- The comparative financial resources of the spouses, including their comparative earning abilities in the labor market.
- The contribution of the spouse seeking maintenance to the earning ability of the other spouse.
- The extent to which the spouse seeking maintenance has reduced that spouse’s income or career opportunities for the benefit of the other spouse.
- The ability of both parties after the dissolution to contribute to the future educational costs of their mutual children.
- The financial resources of the party seeking maintenance, including marital property apportioned to that spouse, and that spouse’s ability to meet that spouse’s own needs independently.
- The time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment and whether such education or training is readily available.
- Excessive or abnormal expenditures, destruction, concealment or fraudulent disposition of community, joint tenancy and other property held in common.
- The cost for the spouse who is seeking maintenance to obtain health insurance and the reduction in the cost of health insurance for the spouse from whom maintenance is sought if the spouse from whom maintenance is sought is able to convert family health insurance to employee health insurance after the marriage is dissolved.
- All actual damages and judgments from conduct that resulted in a criminal conviction of either spouse in which the other spouse or a child was the victim.
Every spousal maintenance case is different.
Each of the spousal maintenance factors will look different from one case to the other.
Arizona judges have broad discretion on how much weight they give to each particular factor.
If you have questions about how the spousal maintenance works in Arizona, you should seriously consider contacting the attorneys at Hildebrand Law, PC. Our Arizona spousal maintenance and family law attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience successfully representing clients in spousal maintenance and family law cases.
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 spousal maintenance or family law case around today.
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