Judges award different types of alimony, or spousal maintenance, in some divorces when one spouse has been financially dependent upon the other. It is not meant as a punishment to the paying spouse nor a crutch for the recipient spouse, but rather a means to help support the lower-earning spouse until she can better provide for herself.
Note that Washington laws do not guarantee alimony in a divorce or provide a specific formula for calculating the amount or duration of support. Courts decide on a case-by-case basis.
What Types of Alimony Might Courts Award in Washington State?
Courts may award several types of alimony in a divorce.
- Temporary – Upon request of the financially dependent spouse, courts may award temporary spousal support, a provisional monthly stipend that helps the recipient spouse during separation, before the divorce is final.
- Short-term/rehabilitative – Courts may order one spouse to pay the other short-term alimony for a set duration of time while she “rehabilitates,” e.g., goes to college to get a degree, or stays at home with the children until they reach school age. A judge can modify rehabilitative alimony if there is a substantial change in circumstances.
- Long-term or permanent – Long-term or permanent alimony means to give long-term or permanent support to a spouse who cannot meet her own needs. Courts rarely award permanent alimony anymore, and many states do not even recognize it.
What Factors Do Courts Consider When Determining Alimony?
Washington courts look at several factors when determining the appropriateness, type, duration, and amount of alimony. Some of the things a judge will consider when determining if a spouse will get alimony include:
- How long the marriage lasted (A judge is more likely to award alimony for longer marriages.)
- The standard of living the couple shared during the marriage
- The earnings and earning capacity of the party requesting alimony (For instance, if she invested her time as a long-time stay-at-home mom rather than a career, alimony is appropriate until she can receive training and re-enter the workforce.)
- The age and physical and emotional condition of the spouse requesting alimony
- The ability of the higher wage earner to pay alimony
How Do I Ensure the Courts Handle My Request for Alimony Fairly During My Divorce?
We highly recommend having an alimony attorney assist you with any divorce matters. A lawyer can ensure the all the facts of the case are clear so that any spousal support awards are fair and reasonable.
For help with divorce matters in Washington, contact me at the Law Office of Molly B. Kenny for a private consultation: 425-460-0550