If you pay child support in Washington, the amount owed is based on a statutory formula. There is no statutory formula for calculating alimony, referred to as maintenance in Washington.
This gives courts more discretion in deciding how much maintenance to award and how long the award should last. Still, courts must consider certain statutory factors when making decisions on maintenance.
One statutory factor is each spouse’s financial resources. This includes what each spouse was awarded in the property division process, each spouse’s ability to be financially independent and whether they have custody of a child or are paying child support.
A second factor affects the lesser-earning spouse who may have stayed at home while married and now must find a job. The court will consider how long it will take that spouse to earn a degree or otherwise obtain the training needed to get an appropriate job.
A third factor is the standard of living the spouses had while they were married. Maintenance is meant to keep each spouse on a relatively even standard of living. This may be the same standard of living as they had while married or a lesser one, but it still more or less equal.
A fourth factor is how long the spouses were married to one another. A longer marriage may mean it takes more time for a spouse to become self-sufficient.
A fifth factor is how old the spouses are and how healthy they are. An older spouse or a spouse with a chronic or serious illness may be limited in what types of jobs they could perform.
Finally, the sixth factor is whether the paying spouse can afford maintenance while still meeting his or her own expenses. After all, a maintenance award should be fair to both spouses.
Fair maintenance helps out spouses in need
A spouse in Bellevue ordered to pay maintenance may not be thrilled about the decision, but they may recognize that the court considered all factors and it is at least a fair decision.
Maintenance can be key in ensuring the lesser-earning spouse can meet their financial needs and obligations. Maintenance may not be permanent, but it can at least last as long as it takes for the spouse receiving it to be able to support themselves on their own.