In Washington, “alimony” is referred to as “spousal maintenance” or simply “maintenance.” Spousal maintenance is designed to help the economically disadvantaged spouse after the divorce. Because Washington is a no-fault state, it is irrelevant which spouse was the cause of the divorce. Instead, Washington courts will look to a variety of factors when deciding whether maintenance is appropriate. These factors include:
- The financial resources of the person requesting maintenance;
- The time necessary for the requesting party to obtain training or an education in order to raise earning capacity;
- Standard of living of the couple during marriage;
- Length of the marriage;
- Age, health, and financial obligations of the spouse requesting maintenance; and
- The ability of the paying spouse to actually pay maintenance while meeting his or her own financial obligations.
It is clear from this list that the threshold question is whether the requesting spouse even needs maintenance at all. The issue of whether the paying spouse has the ability to make the requested payments is also a crucial inquiry. Either spouse may request spousal maintenance, as gender does not factor into the calculation or award in any way.
In general, three types of maintenance are available: temporary, short-term, and long-term.
For more information on this topic, read an article by Ken Levey outlining the differences in spousal maintenance here.