Throughout your marriage, you and your spouse have shared assets and resources. Now that you are divorcing, the court may order you to pay spousal maintenance to help your spouse maintain financial stability.
The court awards spousal maintenance, also known as alimony, based on a number of factors.
Spousal maintenance is flexible
A spousal maintenance order is specific to your circumstances, including:
- Your spouse’s financial resources
- Your spouse’s ability to find employment
- The standard of living you and your spouse established while married
- The length of the marriage
- Your spouse’s age, health and financial obligations
- Your ability to meet your own needs while paying spousal maintenance
The court uses these factors to determine the amount and duration of spousal maintenance.
Spousal maintenance is often temporary
Maintenance is not always permanent. In many cases, the court awards maintenance for a limited time based on the length of your marriage and your spouse’s needs. For example, if your spouse is working toward a college degree, you might only pay maintenance until your spouse’s education is complete.
Spousal maintenance is not a punishment
The purpose of spousal maintenance is not to penalize one spouse for infidelity or other behavior. In fact, Washington state law stipulates that the court should determine spousal maintenance “without regard to misconduct.”
Paying spousal maintenance should not be a financial hardship for you. Many people have a misconception of alimony as a payment that allows one spouse to live lavishly at the expense of the other. However, the court must consider your financial circumstances and your ability to pay.
Spousal maintenance is not necessary for every divorce. The judge must consider your circumstances and determine whether spousal maintenance is appropriate.