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If I Get Divorced, Will I Have to Pay Alimony?

By: Alex Lindvall

Maricopa County has developed a relatively straightforward (and mathematical) approach to alimony.  The court must determine (1) whether the spouse should pay alimony, (2) how much should be paid, and (3) how long those payments should last.

1. Whether: 

The courts want each spouse to be self-sufficient; however, that may not always be possible.  Accordingly, the Arizona courts will only award alimony if the spouse “(1) lacks sufficient property to provide for her reasonable needs; and (2) is unable to support herself through appropriate employment…”  If you can show that your soon-to-be-ex-spouse can be self-sufficient without your assistance, the court will likely not award alimony.

2. How much? 

Unlike most jurisdictions, Maricopa County uses uniform mathematical formulas to determine alimony payments.  For amount, the formula is:

(the obligor’s monthly income – the obligee’s monthly income) × (the duration of the marriage in years × .015) 

  • Obligor = the person making payments
  • Obligee = the person receiving payments

For an example, assume the following:

  • Spouse “A” makes $8,333/month ($100,000/year);
  • Spouse “B” made $4,166/month ($50,000/year); and
  • They were married for 10 years.

Your formula would be:

(8,333 – 4,166) × (10 × .015) = $625/month

3. How long?  

The duration of alimony payments is determined by the following formula:

(duration of the marriage in years × 0.3) to (duration of the marriage in years × 0.5)

So, if you were married for 10 years, you would be making alimony payments for 3 to 5 years.  However, if the marriage lasted for over 20 years and the obligee is over 50-years-old, the duration is indefinite (i.e., until death or remarriage).