Spousal Support, or Spousal Maintenance as it is known in Washington State, refers to a part of many divorces that end up being determined by the courts when they determine what is a fair amount of maintenance. If you find yourself on either end of this fight, you will not want to do it alone. Even though there is a law that deals directly with Spousal Maintenance (RCW 26.09.090), the judges who determine the outcome really can choose whatever they see fit. The law allows them to look at the facts of the divorce and decide what they think is fair, regardless of how you or the other party feel about it. And while the law is vague and a lot is left up to interpretation, there are some basic principles that most judges will follow.
- Short-term marriage – For any marriages that have lasted five years or less have a shorter maintenance period. The general rule of thumb is for the spouse to receive an amount of money that will allow them to be able to meet their most basic needs for a few months. Usually, these payments end up either tapering off or stopping, leaving the spouse to fend for themselves after some time.
- Mid-length marriage – Marriages that have been lengthier, often up to 20 years, have a different set of circumstances. While their payments will likely eventually taper off, they do tend to be for a longer time and can be for more than just their basic needs if the judge so chooses. Sometimes the judge will determine that the spouse deserves to continue to live the same lifestyle they have been living. This is seen more often in situations where children are involved.
- Long-term marriage – For marriages that are longer than 20 years, the judges often determine that Spousal Maintenance should be for their life, or at least for a very long time. Additionally, the amount of payments are usually more than just basic needs, unlike the previous two situations.
Regardless of the length of the marriage, the court is going to consider several factors when awarding spousal maintenance. Some of these factors include the ability to pay, the lifestyle the married couple was living throughout their marriage, the mental and physical condition of each spouse, and any financial obligations of each party like debts and children.
Experienced Legal Team
If you find yourself in a divorce situation where Spousal Support or Spousal Maintenance is going to become an issue, it is highly recommended that you retain an experienced attorney. Since the law is so vague and each judge is going to look at the situation differently, it is essential to have a team of attorneys like Community Law PLC on your side.