Washington law refers to alimony or spousal support as maintenance. In a divorce, the court may order one spouse to pay a certain amount of money to the other spouse on a set schedule, or a certain bill that is due on a regular basis, in order to support that spouse. There is no set formula under Washington law to calculate the amount of maintenance that a spouse should pay. Rather, a judge must consider a number of different factors in deciding whether to award maintenance, and, if so, how much maintenance should be. These factors include the following:
- Each party’s earning capacity
- The property that each party will have after the divorce
- The health and ages of both parties
- The length of the marriage
- The lifestyle that the parties enjoyed during the marriage
Keep in mind that in most cases, amount of maintenance that you are ordered to pay can change, even after your divorce is final. And, in some situations, the parties agree that a maintenance order is non-modifiable.
Your divorce degree generally places a time on your obligation to pay spousal maintenance. The length ordered by the court usually relates the factors mentioned above. So spousal support in a marriage that lasted 25 years or more will generally last longer than a five year marriage. Spousal support is rarely permanent, unless the other spouse absolutely cannot work and any disability income is insufficient for the lifestyle he or she enjoyed during the marriage.
In Washington, a spousal maintenance order terminates upon the death of either party or the remarriage of the spouse receiving support. But this can be changed if the court believes there is a good reason or the parties agree. For instance, some people agree that maintenance should terminate if the other spouse moves in with a significant other.
At Pacific Northwest Family Law, we know how stressful, emotional, and complex divorce and family law proceedings can be. If you are facing a family law case involving spousal support, you need the advice and guidance of an attorney with a background in family law. Contact our office today, schedule a meeting with an experienced Washington family law attorney at Pacific Northwest Family Law, and learn how we can help you with your divorce or family law case.