Standard of Living and Alimony in Arizona
How Standard of Living Impacts Alimony in Arizona
The standard of living maintained during the marriage may affect alimony in Arizona. The court will consider the standard of living established during the marriage. For example, the court will consider the size, location, and monthly costs of the home where the parties’ lived.
The court will consider the cars the parties’ drove, as well as the clothing, jewelry and other items they bought. The court will consider the vacations and other entertainment the parties’ enjoyed. The court will consider all facts establishing the standard of living the parties’ experienced. The standard of living influences the amount of alimony awarded in Arizona. However, it is not the controlling factor.
It is not controlling because the goal of an award of alimony is to help a spouse obtain education, training, or experience in the labor market. The goal of alimony is to allow a spouse to increase his or her income or career opportunities. The spouse seeking maintenance is expected to increase their ability in the labor market to support themselves.
This is not to say the court will make a spousal maintenance award to keep the spouse receiving spousal maintenance at that same standard of living. It is only one of several factors contained in A.R.S. 25-319. The court must balance that factor against all of the other factors in A.R.S. 25-319. The following are all the factors a court must consider when awarding alimony:
- 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.
How to Establish a Standard of Living in an Arizona Alimony Case
It is important to establish your standard of living for the court in an alimony case. You do that by using financial documents demonstrating your monthly household expenses. Documents such as mortgage statements, credit card statements, bank statements, and other documents will help establish your monthly living expenses. Photographs of your vehicles, home, and vacations are also helpful.
You should then insert the information from those documents into a spreadsheet. It is helpful to categorize those expenses as monthly housing expenses, monthly automobile expenses, monthly food expenses, monthly eating out and entertainment expenses, and the like. This provides an easy way for the court to understand the standard of living of your marriage.
It is also important to prove your spouse approved how money was spent during the marriage. There are cases where one spouse earns all the money while the other spouse simply squanders it all on lavish spending. That spending may exceed what would be reasonable. Most judges will not base their evaluation of the standard of living off the unrealistic and irresponsible excessive spending of a spouse.
Our attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience litigating alimony cases in Arizona. We are able to resolve disputes regarding alimony in most cases. In others, we thoroughly prepare our clients’ alimony cases to ensure the best outcome in those cases. Alimony can have a big impact on your financial future so make sure you have experience on your side.
Contact us today or call us at (480)305-8300 to schedule your consultation with one of our Scottsdale Arizona Spousal Maintenance Attorneys today regarding any questions you have regarding Arizona spousal maintenance laws or any other family law matter.
Chris Hildebrand wrote this article about the effect of the standard of living on Alimony to ensure everyone has access to information about alimony laws 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. He believes the policies and procedures he uses to get his clients through a divorce should all be guided by the principles of honesty, integrity, and actually caring about what his clients are going through.