Washington State Alimony and Spousal Support
Spousal maintenance, also known as spousal support and alimony, is applicable in many divorces. It is both an added source of contention and a key consideration in the overall divorce proceedings and property settlement.
Whether you will pay or receive spousal maintenance (and how much and for how long) depends in part on the facts of your case and the particular judge, but also on who is representing you. The experienced attorneys of O'Brian & Associates understand the nuances of Washington's maintenance statute and how to assert your best interests in the legal process.
Our firm has handled divorce and related matters of family law since 1986, serving clients in Bellevue, Redmond, the Eastside communities and the Greater Seattle area. We invite you to contact us to arrange a time for a confidential consultation.
When Is Spousal Maintenance Called For?
Spousal maintenance applies when divorcing spouses are not on equal financial footing. It does not necessarily equalize their incomes and lifestyles, but ensures that a lesser-earning spouse can meet expenses and maintain a reasonable standard of living. Either spouse (men as well as women) can receive maintenance.
Unlike some states, Washington's statute does not have different types or tiers of spousal maintenance. It is either awarded or not, and judges have leeway in the amount and duration. However, the court must consider statutory factors, such as:
- Income disparity
- Education and earning power
- Age and health
- Length of the marriage
The courts tend to award maintenance as a short- to medium-term bridge, and there is no provision in the law for permanent alimony. However, when a spouse is not likely to become self-supporting (due to disability or lack of marketable skills), judges may award maintenance indefinitely.
You may have heard of a maintenance formula of one year of support for every four years of marriage. This is not in the statute (law), but rather an unwritten rule of thumb that some judges and lawyers use as a starting point. Your actual support award (if any) could deviate greatly from this unofficial ratio.
Fairness And Strategy In Alimony
Our skilled Redmond alimony lawyers have successfully argued for and against spousal support in contested proceedings. We often negotiate the terms of maintenance rather than rolling the dice in court. In fact, spousal maintenance can be a very effective tool in the broader negotiations. A spouse might waive spousal maintenance in exchange for keeping the house, for example, or the higher-earning spouse may offer to take on more marital debts in order to pay less support. There are many creative ways to resolve this issue.
Our role is to ensure that you are treated fairly in court awards or that any negotiations involving maintenance are fair and financially prudent for you.
Contact us now to arrange a confidential consultation with an experienced attorney.
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