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Washington Alimony
Maintenance

The Washington court grants alimony to either spouse, for an amount of time and in a monetary amount as the court deems fair, considering all relevant factors. The length of the marriage and financial situation of the parties are important factors in determining who receives support, the duration and amount.

The Washington court does not consider marital fault in determining alimony because Washington is a no-fault divorce state; therefore, it does not matter which spouse caused the marital collapse.

Both the husband and the wife may be eligible for alimony in Washington. Generally, the spouse who has forgone an education or career to support children, or to support the other spouse in his or her career or education, is eligible.

According to RCW 26.09.090(a), a Washington judge takes into account the needs of the claimant. This calculation involves the ability of the claimant to meet his or her own needs without spousal support, and consideration of the number of children involved in the divorce.

In the state of Washington, judges may award alimony payments based upon an expected standard of living. If a divorced spouse or domestic partner becomes accustomed to a certain lifestyle during the marriage, the judge may order the man or woman to pay his or her partner accordingly.

According to RCW 26.09.090(a), the state of Washington does not place restrictions on the duration of alimony. The court considers the time necessary for the recipient to acquire new job skills, education and employment. After that alimony payments may stop.

According to RCW 26.09.090(e), a judge considers the unique circumstances including age, physical conditions and emotional conditions. For example, an elderly divorcee or ex-partner who cannot reenter the workplace may receive a longer alimony reward. A disabled divorcee or ex-partner may receive extra benefits to pay for his or her higher cost of living.

Any change of circumstances affecting the payor’s ability to pay or the recipient’s solvency may justify a modification to the support agreement. Generally, the party who seeks modification must petition the court and provide proof of any changed circumstances.

Under federal tax law, alimony may be claimed as a deduction by the paying spouse. The recipient must claim it as income if support is court ordered.

Types of Alimony

In Washington, courts may order temporary, short- and long-term alimony. Temporary alimony is granted at the discretion of the court during the divorce proceedings and before the final decree. Short-term alimony may be granted to allow the receiving party time to gain necessary skills. Long-Term, or permanent, maintenance may be granted to a spouse who has significant needs, and is usually reserved for lengthy marriages.

Factors Considered by the Court

In Washington, alimony is discretionary. According to the Revised Code of Washington - Title 26 - Chapters: 26.09.050, 26.09.090, 26.09.120, the court considers all relevant factors, excluding marital misconduct, including but not limited to:

  • the financial resources and assets of the party seeking maintenance;
  • the time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find employment appropriate to his skill, interests, style of life, and other attendant circumstances;
  • the standard of living established while married;
  • the length of the marriage;
  • the age and health condition, and financial obligations of the spouse seeking maintenance; and
  • the ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to meet his or her needs and financial obligations while meeting those of the spouse seeking maintenance.

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