Many clients wonder, “what is alimony?” and “how is it calculated in Arizona?” The short answer is that alimony, known in Arizona as spousal support, is money one spouse pays to another following divorce. The courts do not award spousal maintenance in every divorce. The court will first determine whether the recipient spouse would suffer financial hardship after the divorce. If so, they may choose to award spousal support.
Requirements for Spousal Support in Arizona
Arizona Revised Statute 25-319 grants authority to judges to award spousal support. In particular, the judge must adhere to the established guidelines within 25-319(A). These outline whether the spouse is entitled to spousal support. They must also follow 25-319(B). This determines how much to award. It also establishes the duration the spouse is entitled to receive spousal maintenance.
The statutes require the judge to determine that the recipient spouse has insufficient financial assets to provide for their needs and that their employment is inadequate for their needs. Additionally, spouses qualify for spousal support if they are the custodian of a child and unable to work, or if they contributed to their spouse’s educational endeavors. For instance, if they watched the children while the spouse earned a college degree. Finally, the court can award spousal support following a long marriage, typically 15+ years, and when the recipient spouse is too old to pursue gainful employment.
In general, the courts aim to require spousal payments for a length of time equal to 30-50% of the duration of the marriage. The amount awarded is subject to modification as income and needs evolve.
Exempt Sources of Income & Standard of Living
The courts cannot consider certain forms of income when determining the spousal maintenance award. These include VA disability payments and SSI payments.
It is a myth that the court will always award spousal support to maintain the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage. While the court will do this in many cases, if there are insufficient funds available, the courts are not obligated to issue an award of spousal support. For instance, if the payer spouse’s income has diminished through job loss, business closure, etc.
Are Spousal Support Payments Tax Deductible?
The answer to this is yes, and no. Spousal maintenance orders entered before January 1, 2019, were tax-deductible. However, due to changes to the statutes, awards issued by the courts after January 1, 2019, are not tax-deductible.
Calculating Spousal Support in Arizona
There is no set calculation for spousal support in Arizona. Indeed, the judge will look at numerous factors when making a decision. Judges in Arizona have broad discretion in establishing what they believe is a fair and reasonable award. The judge will consider the standard of living during the marriage as well as the length of the marriage. They will look at the age of both spouses, their employment history, earning capacity, as well as the health of the spouse seeking support.
The judge will consider the financial needs of both spouses, their financial resources, and the contributions both spouses have made to the marriage. He/she will consider the healthcare needs of both spouses as well as whether either spouse concealed assets or expenditures, and whether either spouse has engaged in criminal conduct to conceal assets or illegally reduce their income to avoid paying spousal support.
Contact Simon Law Group, PLLC at (480) 568-1141. Our team will answer your questions regarding spousal support in Arizona. It is our pleasure to help whether you need to know, “what is alimony?” or need assistance obtaining custody of your child.