Getting a divorce can be especially scary when you’re worried about how to support yourself during and after the divorce. Spousal support/alimony can be an option, but how much could you actually get? The answer requires an understanding of Arizona laws on spousal support, a good attorney, and some guesswork using the following guidelines.
Arizona’s Old Formula for Alimony
Arizona used to have a fairly simple formula for calculating spousal support or allimony. First, you would calculate the difference between the two spouses’ monthly incomes. The higher-earning spouse would pay 15 to 25 percent of the difference each month. Various factors could weight your alimony toward the larger end of the range, such as a longer term marriage or if your lower income is a direct result of sacrifices you made for your spouse’s benefit. The duration of spousal support or alimony was generally 30 to 50 percent of the duration of the marriage.
Arizona’s New Guidelines
When the old formula was overturned, Arizona’s new guidelines basically became… there are no guidelines. Awarding spousal support or alimony is now up to the judge’s discretion, which means the amount and duration can vary widely based on the judge. You can, however, come to an agreement yourselves in mediation or in negotiation between your attorneys, and as long as the amount seems reasonable, the judge will most likely approve it. If you have to take it to court, it’s important to work with your attorney to make a strong case in your favor.
For many, the problem with divorce is that it takes too long, and the lesser-earning spouse (or non-earning spouse) may have no way to support themselves in the meantime. In cases where it’s needed, the judge can award “pendente lite,” which is basically just a temporary order for spousal support. Pendente lite is intended to carry you through until the divorce can be finalized and a decision made on alimony going forward.
Factors To Consider
So what factors do judges take into consideration when ruling on spousal support alimony? There are a number of things that may impact their decision, such as:
- How long you were married
- The standard of living during your marriage
- Your contributions to the marriage and/or sacrifices made to your career
- Factors affecting your earning prospects, such as age, disability status, care responsibilities, and education
In most cases, spousal support or alimony is seen as rehabilitative, which means that it’s supposed to be short-term assistance to provide you the time and resources to become financially independent. The judge may rule in favor of longer term or ongoing support if you are too old to launch a new career or resume an old one, if you are disabled, or if you are unable to work due to caregiver duties.
The Importance of Legal Representation
With so much of it being based on subjective decision making, it’s important to have an experienced family law attorney representing your interests in court. A good lawyer will help make a strong case for why spousal support or alimony is needed in your situation. For more information about spousal support or alimony in Arizona, contact the Simon Law Group, PLLC, today.