Spousal Maintenance (Alimony)

Experienced Alimony & Spousal Maintenance Negotiators

How is spousal maintenance determined in WA?

In Washington state, there is no magic formula for alimony and spousal maintenance. This is one place where it’s up to some creative lawyering on both sides. There are a number of factors that are considered and a wide range of possible outcomes.

In Washington, an award of maintenance, also known as alimony in some states, is typically based on the need (of the receiving spouse) and the ability (of the paying spouse) to pay.

The idea behind maintenance is that the non-wage-earning spouse, or lower-wage-earning spouse, is entitled to receive money for some period of time in order to allow that spouse to get back into the work force or to build an asset base. In some cases, a non-wage-earning spouse may be too old or otherwise unable to get into the work force. In these cases, long-term maintenance can be the result, depending on the length of the marriage.

Because of the complete uncertainty about maintenance awards, it is important to have a lawyer who has spent time in the courtroom recently so she has some idea about how judges are viewing requests for spousal maintenance.

Dissolution of Marriage: Maintenance Awards Differ in Cases Depending on the Asset Base

Cases with modest assets will have maintenance amounts that are different than cases where there are significant assets.

When the assets are modest, and one party earns more than the other, it is likely that an award of maintenance will be deemed appropriate. The issue will be how much and for how long. Our lawyers have good relationships with vocational assessment experts who can help find potential jobs or careers for the spouse who is under- or unemployed. This way you can convince a judge or a mediator that your maintenance proposal is more compelling than your spouse’s.

In a high asset case, if one spouse is going to receive income-generating assets, or a large liquid account, he or she may not “need” maintenance. This is where you may need the help of a financial expert or CPA who can analyze your asset base. The financial expert will help you determine what kind of income could be generated, and how this would bear on the ability of the receiving spouse to support him- or herself without maintenance.

How Much Will I Need to Pay, and for How Long?

The amount and duration of maintenance turns on many issues that are set forth in RCW 26.09.090, the maintenance statute. As a practical matter, there can be a big difference between a person who has no meaningful job experience and one who took off a couple of years to stay home with small children, or someone who has out-of-date professional skills. In any of these cases, a vocational expert is indispensable. These professionals review the work history of the spouse seeking maintenance and compare it to databases containing employment and wage information. Vocational reports go a long way when making an argument for or against a maintenance award. Our legal team works closely with vocational experts to help provide valuable data to promote a fair settlement.

Contact the Attorneys of DuBois Cary Law Group

At DuBois Cary Law Group, we spend enough time in trial to have a pretty good idea of how your maintenance case might be viewed by a judge. This gives us credibility in the settlement process and at mediation. If the opposing counsel knows your lawyer is ready to head down to the courthouse and confidently put on a case that supports her analysis of the potential maintenance award, you will probably get a better settlement. So, if you or your spouse will likely be making a claim for maintenance, give us a call to discuss. This is one area where some pre-divorce planning can come in handy.

If you have further questions about alimony and spousal maintenance, or want to arrange a confidential consultation with one of our Seattle or Bellevue-Redmond Divorce Attorneys, please contact us today. We have offices in Seattle and Bellevue-Redmond and can meet with you in one or both of those locations as needed. We look forward to meeting you and helping you achieve the alimony or spousal maintenance solutions you seek.

The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.