Alimony Calculator on Top of Finance PaperworkAlimony, or spousal maintenance in Washington state, is a legally-mandated payment from one spouse to the other. Maintenance may be ordered by the court during a divorce or legal separation, and the amount and duration of payments will depend on the specifics of the case. If you think you could be owed maintenance, it’s vital that you make a strong case for need before your divorce is final.

What Does Rehabilitative Spousal Maintenance Pay For?

There are a few different categories of spousal maintenance, and one of the most commonly awarded is short-term rehabilitative alimony. Rehabilitation maintenance provides the recipient spouse with additional resources while they adjust to life without their partner’s income and work toward becoming financially independent.

Rehabilitative spousal maintenance may pay for:

  • College tuition. A spouse who sacrificed career opportunities during the marriage may opt to go back to school to start a new career in a different industry.
  • Job retraining or certification. A recipient spouse may enter a short-term program that could offer significant financial benefits upon completion, such as working toward a specific promotion at work or enrolling in an intensive certification course.
  • Continued stay-at-home parenting. If parents divorce while the children are still young, maintenance can preserve the children’s daily routine without added financial pressure on the stay-at-home spouse.
  • Income inequality. Maintenance may be ordered if one spouse makes considerably more because they went to work while the other sacrificed earning potential. A spouse who paid the family’s bills in the early years of the marriage to support their partner’s career ambitions will be at a disadvantage when reentering the job market decades later.
  • Lost earning capacity. A spouse might seek maintenance if they're unable to work full-time due to a medical problem or chronic condition.

What Both Spouses Should Know About Rehabilitative Alimony

Alimony is awarded based on two guiding factors: the recipient spouse’s need and the other spouse’s ability to pay. If you’re requesting alimony, you will need to demonstrate that you need and are owed financial support from your ex-spouse.

Keep in mind that rehabilitative spousal maintenance payments:

  • Are NOT a substitute for child support. None of the money sent to an ex-spouse as alimony should be used in lieu of or to supplement court-ordered child support.
  • Are tax-free for the recipient. Spousal support is no longer tax deductible on any divorce or separation finalized after January 1, 2019. The spouse receiving support doesn’t have to report the alimony as income to the IRS, and the spouse paying the support will also pay taxes on the amount.
  • May only last a set period of time. Spousal maintenance is granted on a case-by-case basis, as is the number of months payments could continue. There’s no set formula for calculating the duration of alimony, but courts generally increase payment terms along with the length of the marriage.
  • Will terminate if a recipient remarries. Spousal maintenance may end if the recipient marries someone else. It also may terminate upon either spouse’s death

Get the Facts on Alimony From a Washington State Divorce Attorney

If you think you have a right to request alimony, you should call the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny at (425) 460-0550 for a personalized assessment of your case. You can also use our online contact form to arrange a private consultation or read through our free guide, 9 Urban Myths about Divorce That Can Hurt You.


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