Spousal Maintenance Guidelines in AZ – Rule of 65

Spousal Maintenance Guidelines in AZ – Rule of 65

Of all the new principles contained within the recent release of Spousal Maintenance Guidelines, the Rule of 65 seems to have garnered the most attention. Perhaps it is because the change is novel. Perhaps it is because it involves math (a lawyer’s kryptonite). But when the new Spousal Maintenance Guidelines are studied in context, it’s a small part of the overall spousal maintenance scheme.

Important information about the updated guidelines

  • The Spousal Maintenance Guidelines are designed to help judges determine eligibility, amount, and duration of spousal maintenance.
  • When a Court has determined someone is eligible and entitled to spousal maintenance, the Court must then determine amount and duration. The Guidelines provide a range for both.
  • The Court can order an amount that differs from the amount range if it finds the amount would be unjust. But the Court must order a duration that falls within the duration range unless the case falls into one of three well-defined, narrow circumstances: the recipient spouse has a permanent disability, extraordinary circumstances that the recipient spouse from being self-sufficient, or the Rule of 65 applies.

Rule of 65

So that’s what the Rule of 65 is—an exception to the Guidelines’ rigid rule that a Court must order the duration range required by the Rule, which if the Rule applies, that range is a spousal maintenance award ranging anywhere from 12 to 96 months, i.e., 1 to 8 years. So, if the Rule applies, it means that the Court could order that a spouse otherwise entitled to spousal maintenance shall receive it for less than a year, or, more plausibly, that they receive it for more than eight years.

What is the purpose of this rule?

It appears to be designed to help an older recipient spouse, who has significantly reduced their career opportunities to the point they will be unlikely support themselves and retire on time, to be self-sufficient up to and perhaps beyond retirement age. This rule allows Courts, on a case-by-case basis, to determine whether, in those circumstances, spousal maintenance should last beyond eight years.

The Rule of 65 Requirements

Although we mentioned math, the question of whether someone qualifies is actually simple and only involves simple addition. For the Rule of 65 to apply, all three of the following requirements need to be met:

  • The party seeking maintenance is at least 42 years old.
  • The marriage lasted at least 16 years.
  • Age of the spouse seeking maintenance + length of marriage is equal to or greater than 65.


  • Sam and Jamie have been married for 24 years. Sam, the spouse seeking maintenance is 41. The Rule of 65 does not apply because the spouse seeking maintenance is not 42 years old.
    • What if Sam is 41 at the time the Petition for Dissolution was served, but 42 by the time of the divorce trial? The Rule of 65 still does not apply. It’s Sam’s age on the date the Petition is filed that matters.
  • Alex and Blake are both 55. They have been married for 15 years. The Rule of 65 does not apply because they have not been married long enough.
    • What if they were married for 15 years at the time Petition for Dissolution was served, but their 16th anniversary occurred between the date of service and the date of trial? Once again, it is the date of service that matters. The Rule of 65 has not been met.
  • Chris and Kelly are both 52. They have been married for 20 years. The Rule of 65 applies. It applies because (1) the spouse seeking maintenance is older than 42, (2) the parties were married for longer than 20 years, and (3) the sum of those two numbers is greater than 65 years.

The Rule of 65 in Practice

This rule is brand new. So, we do not know how it will play out in the Court system yet. Its existence is somewhat surprising, because when judges were free to set the spousal maintenance, they rarely ordered spousal maintenance for a period longer than one-third the length of the marriage, and they also rarely ordered spousal maintenance past retirement age. But we are already seeing parties and attorneys asking for its application to obtain very long-term spousal maintenance awards. Time will tell how judges will handle lengthy spousal maintenance requests.


Related Pages and Posts:

Spousal Maintenance Attorneys and Spousal Maintenance in AZ (state48law.com)

FAQs: Spousal Maintenance – State 48 Law Firm

Spousal Maintenance Calculator (maricopa.gov)

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