Spousal Maintenance (Alimony)

Spousal Maintenance (Alimony)

When couples in Arizona file for Divorce, either spouse may request the court issue an order for Spousal Maintenance or Spousal Support (also commonly known as Alimony). Spousal Maintenance is not awarded in every Divorce in which it is requested, however. The purpose of maintenance is to help a lower-earning spouse complete education or training necessary to reenter the workforce and to support himself or herself. It is meant to be rehabilitative in nature. Spousal Maintenance is often only ordered for a short duration of time following the end of a marriage. It may be ordered for a longer period of time when the marriages are considered to be long-term, which can be defined as lasting for more than 10 years. To determine if you are eligible for Alimony or Divorce Support, consult with our expert Cantor Law Group Arizona divorce attorneys regarding Arizona law about these Alimony guidelines.

     A. Qualifications

Judges are given broad discretion in whether to order Spousal Maintenance. It is not guaranteed.  Further, the Arizona Supreme Court is directed to establish guidelines based on different factors that are outlined in A.R.S. § 25-319 that will determine whether a spouse in eligible to receive maintenance. Under  A.R.S. § 25-319(A), a Judge will analyze whether the spouse:

  1. Lacks sufficient property, including property apportioned to the spouse, to provide for that spouse’s reasonable needs.
  2. Lacks earning ability in the labor market that is adequate to be self-sufficient.
  3. Is the parent of a child whose age or condition is such that the parent should not be required to seek employment outside the home.
  4. Has made a significant financial or other contribution to the education, training, vocational skills, career or earning ability of the other spouse or has significantly reduced that spouse’s income or career opportunities for the benefit of the other spouse.
  5. Had a marriage of long duration and is of an age that may preclude the possibility of gaining employment adequate to be self-sufficient.

     B. Calculator

The Arizona Supreme Court launched an Arizona Spousal Maintenance Calculator in 2023 to help judges and lawyers make fair and consistent decisions about alimony payments. This online Arizona Alimony calculator uses a standardized formula based on several factors, including the length of the marriage, the income and earning capacity of both spouses and the standard of living established during the marriage.

This free Spousal Maintenance Calculator is a starting point for negotiations and helps parties understand their options, guidelines, and rights in Divorce Court. However, it is important to note that the calculator is not a substitute for a Judge’s decision or the advice of a Lawyer. It is essential that you consult with an expert Cantor Law Group Arizona Family Law attorney regarding the qualifications for Alimony, what constitutes income, permanent Spousal Maintenance, Temporary Spousal Maintenance, the different types of Alimony, how property can affect Spousal Maintenance awards, Spousal Maintenance costs, and what is considered reasonable Spousal Maintenance.

Courts do not take marital misconduct into account when they are determining whether to award spousal support. Maintenance is also not meant to be punitive, so a Judge will not order a spouse to pay maintenance simply to punish him or her. The statutes do not provide guidance for how much maintenance Judges should order when they grant a maintenance request. After weighing the factors and taking them into account, judges can grant maintenance in an amount and duration that seems fair under the circumstances. Understanding the financial resources of each party, income, and marital property is key to understanding the guidelines that inform the Spousal Support Calculator.

Finally, under the Spousal Maintenance statute, A.R.S. § 25-530, courts may not consider veterans’ disability benefits awarded for service-connected disabilities as a part of the income of spouses when they are determining whether to award Spousal Maintenance income under the AZ Alimony Calculator.

     C. Amount and Duration

In Arizona, the duration of a Spousal Maintenance (alimony) award is based on the goal of enabling the receiving spouse to become self-sufficient.  Spousal Maintenance is awarded for a period necessary to help the receiving spouse achieve financial independence. The duration is linked to the time required for the receiving spouse to become self-sufficient through diligent efforts in obtaining training and skills. Considerations in making this determination are:

  1. Length of Marriage: The length of the marriage is calculated from the date of marriage to the date of the Dissolution or Legal Separation Petition.
    Periods of physical separation without the initiation of proceedings are included in the calculation.
  2. Duration Ranges: The duration range for Spousal Maintenance depends on the length of the marriage. It varies from up to 12 months for marriages up to 24 months, up to 36 months for marriages of [24 months or more] to 60 months,
    and so on. However, the “Rule of 65” applies when the age of the party seeking maintenance plus the marriage length equals or exceeds 65. In such cases, the duration is determined individually.
  3. Disability of the Receiving Spouse: a) Permanent Disability: If the receiving spouse has a condition preventing self-sufficiency, the duration is determined on a case-by-case basis. b) Indefinite Disability: In cases where the impact of a disability on future earning ability is uncertain, it’s advisable to establish a fixed-term award. The receiving spouse can file a Modification Petition to extend the award if the disability continues before its expiration.


It is important to note that Arizona law does not permit “lifetime” Spousal Maintenance awards. Fixed-term awards require the receiving spouse to prove substantial and continuing changed circumstances to extend the duration. Indefinite term awards shift the burden of proof to the paying spouse to establish changed circumstances for termination. The court assigns the burden of proof based on the circumstances, and a fixed-term award may be ordered if it’s more appropriate.

This ensures that Spousal Maintenance awards are not intended to be lifelong commitments, but rather temporary support with the opportunity for reassessment based on changing circumstances.

In terms of determining an amount of Spousal Maintenance, the calculator takes into consideration the following:

  • Family size, including the parties and any children for whom there is a legal obligation to support.
  • Each spouse’s annual income and annual attributed income.
  • The monthly amount of principal paid for the marital residence, excluding mortgage interest, taxes, and insurance. Calculate the average monthly amount based on the principal paid in the 12 months before the filing of the action.
  • The calculator generates a range that includes expenditures for one adult and one-half of the family’s indivisible expenditures. These expenditures are combined with the average monthly mortgage principal to calculate the combined expenditure figure. The receiving spouse’s share of expenditures is calculated proportionately to their share of the combined annual income.
    1. What counts as income?

Spousal Maintenance Income is different from Gross Income or Adjusted Gross Income for tax purposes. It includes income from various sources, such as salaries, wages, commissions, bonuses, dividends, pensions, interest, trust income, and more. Seasonal or fluctuating income is annualized to determine the average monthly income. Income from self-employment or business activities is calculated by deducting ordinary and necessary expenses required to produce the income. Significant reimbursements or non-cash employment benefits that reduce personal living expenses are included as income.

     D. Tax Issues

As of January 1, 2019, Spousal Maintenance is no longer taxable for the recipient, nor tax-deductible for the giver. This change in divorce tax law reversed the established system of Spousal Maintenance taxation established two years prior, meaning that those mandated to pay are no longer eligible for a tax deduction. The dependent divorcee’ receiving the payments no longer has to add Alimony to their tax return, meaning it is still classed as part of the giver’s overall income prior to payment.