Spousal Support In Washington
Washington State recognizes spousal maintenance, also referred to as alimony, in divorce cases. However, it is not automatically granted, and the court considers various factors to determine whether it is necessary. There is no specific method of calculation, making spousal support matters in a Washington divorce complicated. However, a general rule of thumb is that for every four years of marriage, one year of spousal maintenance is awarded.
The court evaluates 11 factors outlined in the statute to determine whether to grant spousal maintenance. Some of these factors include the duration of the marriage, the employment history of each spouse during the marriage, their earning capacities, whether they require further education or training, and each spouse’s financial needs and abilities. The court also takes into account the income levels of both spouses, potential career advancements, and the ability of each spouse to meet their financial needs. Marriages of 10 years or less are considered short-term, 10 to 20 years are considered midterm, and 20 years or more are considered long-term.
Generally, the spouse who earns a higher income is more likely to be required to pay spousal maintenance, especially when there is a significant income disparity between the high-earning potential spouse and the spouse with a limited earning potential. However, if both spouses are healthy, have similar earning capacities, and can maintain their standard of living without spousal maintenance, it is less likely to be awarded, if at all.
Modifying Spousal Support
Generally, alimony or spousal maintenance in Washington is not automatically modifiable once included in the final orders. When final orders are issued, it is common to specify that the spousal maintenance arrangement is non-modifiable. However, certain circumstances can warrant modification. For instance, the final orders may include clauses that terminate spousal maintenance upon either party’s death or the recipient’s remarriage. These clauses are generally included to address very specific situations.
While it is rare for a judge to order spousal maintenance to be modifiable once the divorce process is concluded, it is essential to note that the judge has discretionary power and can make decisions based on the facts of the case. As mentioned in a previous chapter, litigating your divorce case brings several risks. This is yet another since the judge’s ruling can vary so much based on several factors that are entirely out of your control.
For more information on Spousal Support Matters In A Washington Divorce, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (425) 276-7390 today.