Do you hate when people say “back in the old days?” I suppose it depends on who you are asking when it comes to alimony, known in Washington as spousal maintenance or spousal support. Because, back in the old days, the man seemed to always pay because the husband was usually the one bringing home the bacon. But times have changed.
In the last two decades things have drastically shifted. More and more women are earning more than their husbands. According to NPR, in 1987 only 18% of women were the higher wage earners in marriages where both spouses worked; while in 2015, 38% of women were the breadwinners and the husbands aren’t even working.
With the dramatic rise in women wage earners you would expect to see an equivalent increase in women paying alimony, but not quite. In 2010, a mere 3% of alimony recipients (out of 400,000) were male which is up only .5% since 2000, according to the 2010 Census statistics.
That statistic indicates that either the justice system is not up with the times, or men do not know they have a right to support from their wives.
While there is no set formula for predicting the amount of spousal support, there are certain factors the court will review when deciding whether to grant spousal support such as:
• Length of the marriage;
• Financial resources of the party seeking support;
• Standard of living;
• Age, health, medical condition of the party seeking support;
• How long will it take for party seeking support to receive education/training to gain appropriate employment;
• The ability of the spouse who will be paying alimony to maintain his/her needs and financial obligations.
The court does not consider who is at fault because Washington is a no-fault state. Thus, if one spouse cheated on the other causing the marriage to crumble it won’t help plead your case for alimony.
If you are the spouse who gave up education and/or career to stay at home with the kids you would be most likely to receive alimony, regardless of your gender.
The request for alimony should be gender neutral. You should ask if you are not the primary financial earner in the family. Perhaps more men would get spousal support if they just asked. Fellas, this is your life – it’s not the same as asking for directions. Ask for alimony!
To consult with a divorce attorney today contact Pacific Northwest Family Law. We are here to help you navigate these significant stages of your life. Schedule an appointment now by calling 509-572-3700.