Sadly your marriage or domestic partnership is ending. Your reality now includes understanding what is alimony, who pays whom, how much, and for how long. Here is what you need to know about alimony.

What is Alimony? Alimony, also called ‘spousal support,’ is money paid by one spouse to the other to help the other spouse transition to unmarried life and supporting him or herself.

Who Pays Alimony? Either party can be ordered to pay. There are several factors the court will review but duration of the marriage and financial status are the most significant. The basic consideration is the need of one spouse for support and the ability of the other to pay. Figuring out need and ability to pay can be complicated and involve questions of length of the marriage, education, lifestyle, income and savings. Unfortunately, the court will not consider who may to be blame for the relationship ending.

How Long is Alimony Paid? This depends on the needs of the spouse receiving support. In Washington, spousal support is intended to help the other spouse to reenter the workforce and provide for him or herself. The longer you are married and the longer you are out of the workforce, the longer you will need alimony in order to work again. The are other factors that may increase or decrease your need for alimony. In some rare cases, you might even qualify for life-time alimony.

What if Alimony Ends Prior to the Termination Date? By default, alimony obligations will cease if the paying spouse dies or the receiving spouse dies or remarries. But the default can be changed and you can obligate a spouse to pay beyond the grave or provide money to your estate if you were to pass on.

Spousal support can be a complicated issue that a family law attorney can help guide you through and explain the options you have. Whether it’s alimony or another family law issue like custody, divorce or adoption, Pacific Northwest Family Law has an attorney that can help you. Call us today to schedule an appointment at 360-926-9112.