You may have heard stories about people receiving a huge alimony award in their divorce that they may or may not have deserved. These stories are often exaggerated, and do not reflect how Washington courts address alimony — also referred to as maintenance — in a divorce.
Under Washington law the amount of alimony awarded and the length of time it must be paid will be based on what the court believes is “just” in your specific situation. However, there are some factors the court will consider when making such decisions.
Each spouse’s financial resources will be considered when awarding alimony as will their ability to support themselves on their own financially. How long it would take the spouse receiving alimony to get the education or training needed to get a job that can reasonable support themselves will also be considered.
The couple’s standard of living they held while married will be considered. Whether the spouse who will pay alimony will be able to do so while still fulfilling their own financial needs and obligations will also be considered.
How long the marriage lasted is a non-financial factor a court will consider when determining whether alimony should be awarded. Another consideration is each spouse’s age. Finally, each spouse’s physical and mental health will be considered.
Courts strive for fairness when awarding alimony. Both spouses should leave the court on relatively even financial footing. While this may not be as dramatic as portrayed in popular media, it is ultimately the result that will best meet the needs of both spouses.