Spousal support (also known as spousal maintenance or alimony) is a court order that requires one spouse to pay the other spouse a certain amount of money each month for his or her support. Whether a court orders spousal support depends largely on the paying spouse’s ability to pay and the receiving spouse’s need for support.

Deciding upon the appropriate amount of maintenance is far from an exact science. There is no set formula in Washington law that tells exactly how to compute a spousal maintenance order. In determining what amount of maintenance is appropriate in a particular case, the court must consider a variety of different factors, including the following:

• The incomes of each spouse
• The debts being paid by each spouse
• The financial needs of each spouse
• The time and education necessary to allow a spouse to become self-supporting
• The standard of living of the couple during their marriage
• The age, physical condition, and mental condition of the spouse seeking support
• The length of the parties’ marriage

The longer the marriage, the more likely a court will order spousal support. But even this is not guaranteed. For example, if the parties have substantial assets and the court can divide those assets in a manner that would place each spouse on relatively equal financial footing (give one spouse a lot more of the assets), no spousal support would be ordered. The concern of the court in all cases is that no one will be left destitute for the immediate future.

Needless to say, while there are some generalities about calculating spousal support, there are no uniform laws to follow in making a spousal support award. This makes the amount of a potential spousal support order difficult to predict. At Pacific Northwest Family Law, we know how stressful, emotional, and complex divorce proceedings can be, especially when spousal support is an issue. If you are involved in a divorce, you need the advice and guidance of an attorney with a background in divorce and family law. Contact our office today, schedule a meeting with an experienced divorce attorney at Pacific Northwest Family Law, and learn how we can help you with your Washington divorce case.