Historically, a divorce court judge requires the financially independent spouse to make spousal maintenance payments (alimony) to his or her ex in a divorce. If spousal support and Social Security benefits are received simultaneously, then this may affect the maintenance payments. Read more about ‘divorce taxes’ for 401k and retirement funds.

Factors that Affect Spousal Maintenance Orders in Washington State

A court will consider a number of factors when formulating a spousal maintenance order. The Revised Code of Washington section 26.09.090 states that a judge will consider all the following regarding an alimony order.

• The financial resources of the party seeking maintenance
• The time necessary for the party seeking support to obtain education or training required for employment
• The standard of living established during the marriage
• The duration of the marriage
• The ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is being sought to meet both parties’ financial needs

As such, Social Security payments are relevant to the first and last items: the financial resources of the party seeking maintenance and if the spouse seeking payments is financially solvent.

Social Security payments will be considered as income/funds before a judge, and can result in a higher/lower spousal support order. This all depends on which spouse is the recipient of such payments, as well as if the Social Security benefits are the sole source of income (for either spouse).

Alimony and Social Security Benefits through the SSA

According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), a person may be eligible for Social Security benefits on their ex-spouse’s record if the following is true.

  • The marriage lasted for more than ten years  
  • The individual receiving benefits is unmarried 
  • The individual receiving benefits is age 62 or older
  • The benefits the individual would receive from the ex-spouse's record is more than s/he would receive based on her/his own record
  • The individual is entitled to Social Security disability or retirement benefits 

A person may be able to recover benefits on their ex-spouse's Social Security record and spousal maintenance payments at the same time.

Who Can Help Me Understand Spousal Maintenance Payments?

Understanding spousal support and Social Security benefits is complicated. That’s where our divorce lawyers can help. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny will take over the negotiations and fight for a fair maintenance payment. Fill out our contact page form to make an appointment.

Molly B. Kenny
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Divorce and Child Custody Attorney Serving Bellevue and Seattle Washington
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