A Guide to Spousal Support from a Family Law Attorney

Home 9 Divorce and Family Law 9 A Guide to Spousal Support from a Family Law Attorney

Spousal Support Family Law Attorney

Divorce cases are often complex and include numerous personal and financial decisions, including parenting time, property division, and spousal support or maintenance. The information necessary to make these decisions often involves gray areas that must be thoroughly reviewed and settled by a family court judge. An attorney can help guide you through the divorce process by reviewing your case and helping you present the information necessary to achieve a favorable decision by the court.

However, not all alimony attorneys in AZ offer the same services at the same level of quality. When choosing legal representation for a divorce, especially during a spousal support case, it’s important to conduct extensive research and select an attorney that’s right for your circumstances – namely, an attorney with extensive experience regarding spousal maintenance. At Gillespie, Shields & Taylor, our team is devoted to helping residents of Arizona through the spousal maintenance process and will work diligently to ensure your rights are respected.

What Is Spousal Maintenance in Arizona?

Spousal support, often referred to as alimony or spousal maintenance, is a financial determination made by the court designed to ensure that both parties can remain financially stable after their divorce is finalized. In most cases, this involves one spouse making temporary payments to the other spouse until he or she is able to become financially independent.

There are certain criteria that spouses must meet to be eligible for alimony, including:

Property Considerations

While many spouses do receive some property in divorce after assets are split, in some cases, it is not an adequate amount. If a spouse does not receive enough property to be self-sufficient on their own, they may qualify for spousal maintenance.

Attributed Income

If the spouse is unable to earn enough money to retain their current lifestyle after divorce, he or she may be eligible for alimony. The court sometimes prefers to use attributed income rather than actual income to evaluate this factor. Attributed income includes things like the spouse’s education or training and what jobs are currently available in the labor market.

Work Expectations

There are special considerations made for spouses that are not deemed to be expected to work outside the home. This might be due to his or her age, the presence of certain medical conditions, or the need to care for a child with special needs.

Compensatory Alimony

The court can also consider whether a spouse sacrificed some of his or her earning potential for a partner. This can include things like moving or changing jobs due to the other spouse or paying for the other spouse’s education or training.

How Long Does Spousal Support Last in Arizona?

Spousal maintenance can be for a set duration or may change over time depending on the financial situation of both spouses. This means spouses may receive payments lasting anywhere from a few months to years, as needed.

Here is a general range of spousal support lengths as they relate to the length of the marriage:

  • If the marriage lasted under two years, the spouse can receive up to two years of spousal maintenance
  • If the marriage lasted two to five years, the spouse can receive up to three years of spousal maintenance
  • If the marriage lasted five to ten years years, the spouse can receive up to four years of spousal maintenance
  • If the marriage lasted ten to sixteen years, the spouse can receive up to five years of spousal maintenance
  • If the marriage lasted more than sixteen years, the spouse can receive up to 92 months of spousal maintenance

If a spouse meets one of the above guidelines, he or she might be eligible to receive spousal maintenance, but the final decision is up to a judge. Whether spousal maintenance might apply in a specific divorce can be extremely difficult to predict and even more complex to calculate. That is why a spousal support lawyer in Arizona can make such a crucial difference whether you are filing for spousal maintenance or anticipating paying spousal support after a court order.

What Does a Spousal Support Attorney Do?

Spousal Support Attorney AZ

An attorney who has experience with spousal maintenance determinations can benefit you immensely throughout the resulting legal proceedings. Just a few of the different ways a skilled spousal support lawyer can help you include:

Determining Spousal Maintenance Eligibility

Ultimately, a court will determine the final spousal support judgment. However, an experienced attorney can often anticipate whether spousal maintenance will be awarded to your ex-spouse and how much might be required. Your attorney can also help you determine how much you should request if you are petitioning for spousal maintenance.

Gathering Documents

In order to determine how much in spousal maintenance a spouse might owe another, the court needs an extensive amount of financial and personal documents from each. Full transparency is necessary to prove income, assets, and other details regarding the situation. An attorney can help you determine what documents are needed and learn how to get them.

Modifying an Existing Spousal Maintenance Agreement

Most spousal maintenance agreements can be modified before their end date by either spouse, but doing so requires filing additional forms, including a Petition to Modify. This process can be achieved quickly if both parties agree, but it is often necessary to have a judge hear the case in court. This process can be expedited with assistance from a divorce attorney.

Ensuring Enforcement of Spousal Maintenance Payments

If a spouse is not making appropriate payments outlined in a spousal maintenance order, the other spouse might have to petition the court to request that these payments be made. Sometimes, a judge orders spousal maintenance payments to come out of a spouse’s paycheck directly before he or she receives the money. This is called wage garnishment. In extreme cases, an attorney can help with refusals to pay by requesting the spouse be held in contempt of court.

Facing the spousal maintenance process alone can cause a strain on both parties involved. A spousal support attorney can help relieve tension and streamline the process for a better outcome.

Dedicated Spousal Support Attorneys in Arizona

The attorneys at Gillespie, Shields & Taylor have practiced family law for decades. We have experienced firsthand how complicated divorces can become, and our positive relationship with the area legal community and our extensive family law skill set ensures the best possible outcome for your case. Our goal is to provide compassionate legal support for families who need it most.

The following are just some benefits that come with working with our family law firm:

Personalized Approach

At Gillespie, Shields & Taylor, every attorney is dedicated to their clients. We understand that just as every family is different, every family law case is different. This means each spousal maintenance determination requires a unique set of representation strategies.


When you hire a family lawyer, it’s imperative that they communicate with you efficiently and honestly. Gillespie, Shields & Taylor is committed to engaging in open, honest communication throughout your case. It is our mission to make ourselves available when you need us most.

Skill Set

Our firm was founded in 1985, and our attorneys have extensive experience in many different aspects of family law. We prioritize the issues that mean the most to you, including divorce, parenting time, child support, and spousal maintenance arrangements. Our understanding of complicated legal matters makes us a valuable asset to any family law case.

Finding the Right AZ Spousal Support Attorney

spousal support attorney in Phoenix or Mesa

While looking for a spousal support attorney in Phoenix or Mesa, it’s important to review all of your options. There are many family law attorneys out there, but not all of them offer the same services at the same level of quality. Here are some tips for having an effective search when looking for a spousal support attorney in Mesa or Phoenix:


While you will find many family law attorneys in the area, some stand out from the rest. Excellent attorneys know how important it is to maintain an up-to-date Internet presence, which includes a website that is updated frequently. Use his or her website to learn more information about the firm’s practice areas, as well as blogs to determine what types of cases are common for that attorney.

Ask Around

If a friend or family member recommends or knows of an attorney who works in a relevant field, ask for his or her perspective. Ask questions about relevant things like the attorney’s level of transparency, how well he or she communicated, and what the working relationship was like. Look for positive and critical reviews online to help you solidify whether the attorney’s skill set and practice style meet your needs.

Narrow the Top Picks

After deliberation, it’s likely that the list will be significantly smaller than it was at the beginning of the search. Try to choose two to three attorneys or legal teams that seem like a good fit to get more detailed information in person.

Schedule a Consultation

Once a shortlist of potential candidates is created, schedule an in-person or remote consultation. Before making the appointment, ask if there is a fee for an initial consultation so that any obligations are understood up front.

Attend an Initial Consultation

When scheduling a consultation, an attorney might ask for certain documents ahead of time. It’s also important to develop a list of questions to make a final decision. Ask important questions regarding how payments are organized (a flat fee, hourly rate, etc.), the attorney’s background and qualifications, and whether he or she has worked with clients who had situations similar to the case at hand. Potential outcomes for the case are also good information.

Spousal Support FAQs

Because our firm has been working within the realm of family law for years, our team has received a variety of questions concerning spousal maintenance here in Arizona. Below are some of the most common.

What Is the Average Spousal Support Payment in Arizona?
In most spousal maintenance payment agreements, the paying spouse is not expected to pay more than 50% of his or her pre-divorce income. In Arizona, the payment is generally around 15-30% of the paying spouse’s income before the divorce. Of course, the exact number varies, and it depends on details like the length of the marriage and the financial situation of the couple during their marriage. How long payments last also depends on the length of the marriage.
What Is the Rule of 65 in Arizona for Spousal Maintenance?
The Rule of 65 in Arizona adjusts spousal maintenance payment longevity for longer marriages if the receiving spouse is of a certain age. Put simply, if the spouse is 42 or older AND the marriage lasted 16 years or more AND the spouse’s age plus the marriage length equals at least 65, a judge can deviate from the prescribed list of spousal maintenance ranges. For example, a 45-year-old leaving a 20-year marriage would qualify for the Rule of 65, which means the judge could rule that the spouse receiving payments can continue receiving them for longer than the customary 92-month period.
Who Qualifies for Spousal Support in Arizona?
Not every couple filing for divorce qualifies for spousal maintenance payments. There are certain requirements for eligibility to receive payments, prioritizing spouses who do not have enough skills, education, or training to find suitable employment to be financially independent and those who cannot work due to a child’s needs. There are also specific forms of spousal maintenance available for spouses who heavily contributed to the other spouse’s earning ability, either in the form of paying for training or sacrificing his or her own earning ability.
Does Spousal Support End When Someone Remarries in Arizona?
A spousal maintenance agreement might end upon remarriage or death before the maximum longevity of the payment term, depending on the situation. If the spouse receiving payments gets remarried, then the spouse making payments no longer has to make them, and the agreement ends. However, the paying spouse remarrying does not mean an end to payments. Additionally, if the agreement was created in Arizona, it is still in effect even if a spouse moves to another state.
Is Spousal Support Mandatory in AZ?
Whether a spouse needs to make spousal maintenance payments depends on each party’s financial circumstances. Spousal maintenance is not required in every divorce case, but if the court decides that a spouse needs spousal maintenance, then the couple is legally required to comply with those payments. If a spouse refuses to make court-ordered payments, then the other spouse can hold him or her accountable in court to receive the money that is owed, sometimes with interest if the payments are late.
Does Arizona Tax Spousal Support?
Spousal maintenance in Arizona was taxed in the past, but as of 2019, it is no longer taxed. If a divorce was finalized in 2019 or later, then spousal maintenance payments are not included in income tax filing. This means that the person receiving payments does not need to pay income taxes on these payments, but it also means that the person paying for spousal maintenance cannot deduct it from his or her taxes either.

Navigate Spousal Maintenance With Help From Our Team

Spousal maintenance legal help AZ

Spousal maintenance cases can be difficult, especially if there are numerous factors involved in determining spousal eligibility. Fortunately, you don’t have to face the process alone – work with a spousal support attorney who will listen to your needs, examine the details of your case, and create a comprehensive plan to help you reach a favorable outcome in court.

Schedule a consultation with Gillespie, Shields & Taylor today to learn more about our Arizona spousal maintenance services.

*Editor’s Note: This was originally published in 2023 and has been updated March 29, 2024.


Pin It on Pinterest