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How Do Judges Decide the Amount of Alimony?

Alimony, known as spousal maintenance in Arizona, is an award that can be granted by the courts during and after a divorce. It is meant to help people get to the point where they can become self-sufficient financially, and it is rarely awarded on a permanent basis. There’s a lot to consider when it comes to alimony, and one of the most common questions is about the amount of alimony the receiving party may be able to get. Let’s get a closer look at how it works.

Not Everyone Gets Alimony

Some people who believe that they will be getting spousal support when they divorce might be in for a surprise. This is not like child support, which is guaranteed when you have minor children with a former spouse.
There is no guarantee that you will get any spousal maintenance when you are going through the divorce or afterward. You have to qualify for alimony. If you and your ex make about the same amount of money, then you probably won’t be able to get any support, for example.
Additionally, even if you do get  a sizable amount of alimony, it doesn’t mean that it’s going to last. In Arizona, the goal is to make sure that the ex who receives the spousal support is working toward becoming financially independent from their ex. The temporary awards are there to provide them with a short-term cushion while they take steps to get a better job, learn a vocation, etc.
You should also realize that if you are receiving alimony and you get remarried, the alimony will stop. If your ex dies, the alimony will stop as well, naturally. If you have a temporary award, at the end of that duration, the alimony will stop.

What Does the Judge Consider When Determining the Award?

Once the court has determined that awarding spousal maintenance is the right course of action, the judge will determine how long the award will last and the amount. They look at a wide range of different factors when they are making this decision.
One of the first things that they will look at is the duration of the marriage. If you have not been married for long, it’s unlikely that they will award anything. The judge will also consider the age of each of the spouses, their employment history, their health, and their earning ability.
Someone who is older and who hasn’t worked in years, for example, may not have the same earning capacity as someone who is in their late 20s and who has only been married for a couple of years.
Judges will also look at the marital standard of living, the financial resources of both of the spouses, and their ability to earn in the current job market.
The judge also looks at how much the paying spouse is earning to determine whether they can afford to provide for themselves and their ex on their income. It wouldn’t make much sense to give one spouse financial support if doing so would cause the other spouse to fall into financial problems.
History of financial obligations in the marriage will play a role, as well. How much has the requesting spouse contributed to the paying spouse’s ability to earn during the marriage? Did they help with paying for schooling for the paying spouse? This could help them to net a larger reward.
The judge will consider how long it might take for the requesting spouse to get to the point where they can sustain themselves. This can contribute to the duration of the award and the amount.
They will also want to know more about any excessive spending habits that might have taken place during the marriage. For example, if one of the spouses spent frivolously or if they concealed information, it could play a role in the judge’s decision.
Cost of health insurance, damages, and judgments from a spouse’s conduct that resulted in a criminal conviction if the other spouse or a child was the victim, and more can all be considered.

Keep Your Expectations Under Control

As you can see, the judge has to consider many things before they can determine the amount of alimony the paying party will providing to the recipient. In some cases, the amount that is decided on might be lower than what the recipient wants or is expecting. It can often be difficult to determine exactly how much someone might get, but it is possible to get an estimate.
If you are requesting spousal support, it is important to temper your expectations. You don’t want to rely on support that might not be there. The best thing you can do is start to find ways that you can better support yourself. After all, most support is temporary anyway. Getting started on your new path is better for you.

Can You Reach an Agreement with Your Ex?

In some cases, people might reach a private agreement on their own regarding alimony. You and your ex might agree on the duration and the amount for the support. If you do reach an agreement, there is no need to go through the court for alimony. However, when this agreement is accepted and goes into effect, it needs to be followed.
Having spouses agree on the amount of alimony or support is rare, but it could happen in some circumstances. If this is a goal, it’s something that you should talk with your attorney about, or consider DIY Divorce if things are amicable.

Work with an Attorney

If you want to receive alimony or you worry that you might have to pay alimony, it’s a good idea to get an estimate of how much it might be. The best way to do that is to work with a divorce attorney that has experience in these types of cases and who can take you and your spouse’s information to get an estimate.
Just keep in mind that it’s only an estimate. The attorney can’t guarantee that you will get a certain amount for alimony or even that you will necessarily qualify.

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