Washington Alimony and Spousal Support Laws

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Washington state courts allow parties to a divorce to seek alimony or spousal support. The length of the marriage and financial situation of the parties are important factors in determining who receives support, the duration and how much.

Types of Spousal Support

  • Temporary – can be awarded in the time before final decree if one party needs it.
  • Short-Term – sometimes called rehabilitative alimony; meant to assist one spouse in adjusting to the change in circumstances.
  • Long-Term or Permanent – awarded in circumstances where justice requires lengthy alimony payments, often reserved for long marriages.

Who is Eligible for Alimony?

A husband or wife can be eligible for alimony in Washington. Generally, a party who has forgone an education or career to support children or to support the other spouse in their career or education is eligible.

Washington Alimony Guidelines (Factors for Awarding Alimony)

Washington laws instructs the courts to utilize the following guidelines to determine whether alimony is just in a particular case:

  • Financial resources of the party seeking alimony and ability to meet personal needs;
  • Time necessary to acquire education or training to enable the party seeking alimony to find employment appropriate to his skill, interests, style of life, and other circumstances;
  • Standard of living established during marriage;
  • Duration of the marriage;
  • Age, condition and obligations of the spouse seeking alimony; and
  • Ability of the spouse from whom alimony is sought to meet needs and financial obligations while meeting those of the spouse seeking alimony.

Reasons for Termination or Modification of Alimony in Washington

Any change of circumstances impacting a party’s ability to pay alimony or the receiving party’s ability to be self-supporting may justify a modification to the support agreement. Generally, the party who seeks modification must petition the court and provide proof of any changed circumstances.

Marital Fault in Washington

A Washington judge will not consider marital fault in determining an alimony award. Washington is a no fault divorce state. Thus, it does not matter if one spouse was at fault for the marriage’s breakdown.

How Long Does Spousal Support Last in Washington?

A Washington court may grant alimony for either spouse, for an amount of time and in a monetary amount as the court deems fair, considering all relevant factors.

Washington Alimony Taxes

Under federal tax law, alimony may be claimed as a deduction by the paying spouse. The receiving spouse must claim it as income if support is court ordered. There are alternative ways to set up a settlement for tax purposes, so discuss your situation with an attorney knowledgeable about tax law.

Find an Alimony Attorney in Washington

If you are concerned that alimony may be awarded in your dissolution case, you should consult a family law attorney. An experienced attorney will answer your questions about divorce and help you through the legal process.

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