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Arizona Court of Appeals Upholds Use of Maricopa County Spousal Maintenance

A recent decision by the Arizona Court of Appeals, Division One, upheld the use of the Maricopa County Spousal Maintenance Guidelines for the calculation of a spousal maintenance award, so long as the factors listed in A.R.S. 25-319(B) were considered in making that award. The Guidelines, which have never been officially adopted by court rule, provide a method of calculating the amount and duration of a spousal maintenance award by way of a formula derived from an historical review of randomly selected prior spousal maintenance awards. They have been used by family law attorneys as a useful estimate of the possible spousal maintenance award in a given case and, indeed, some Maricopa County Superior Court judges have incorporated them into their spousal maintenance awards. The formula is calculated by taking the difference between each spouse’s gross monthly income and multiplying that result by a factor of .015, then multiplied by the years of marriage. For example, suppose husband and wife have been married for 15 years. If the husband earns $5,000.00 gross per month and the wife earns $1,500.00 per month, the difference of $3,500.00 is multiplied by .015 and then by 15 (years) , then under the Guidelines calculation, and assuming the relevant statutory factors for an award of spousal maintenance are met, wife would be entitled to an award of $787.50 per month. The duration of that award is then calculated by applying a factor of 0.3 and 0.5 to the length of marriage to determine the range of the duration of the award, in this case from 4.5 to 7.5 years.

The case is Cullum v. Cullum (CV 06-0038, Ariz App. Div. I) and by clicking on this link you can review the entire text of that opinion.

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