Chris Boyd Law
902 Esther Street Suite 400, Vancouver WA 98660   Phone: (360) 696-0166

Spousal Support Attorney

When a Washington couple gets divorced, a judge may grant an award of spousal maintenance to be paid by one spouse to the other. Often called alimony in other states, this award of financial support generally occurs when one half of the divorcing party has much higher income and assets in comparison to the other. The party that is at the lower end of the economic scale can petition the court for spousal maintenance, which can be paid for any number of years. This spousal maintenance is awarded and calculated separately from child support, although the two are often paid together in one monthly payment.

Many factors are used to determine both the need and duration of court-ordered spousal support. Sometimes, no maintenance is due to either party after a divorce. Consideration is given to the length of the marriage, the standard of living maintained during the marriage, and the time and education required by the spouse requesting maintenance payments to secure the appropriate training and employment that will produce a suitable future income. The age, income expectations, and health of the spouse seeking support are also taken into account in addition to his or her financial obligations after the divorce.

A maintenance award is made solely on the basis of financial and economic factors. Currently, no financial allocations are granted as a result of the immoral or personal misconduct of either party during the course of the marriage. Spousal support is merely a means of equalizing the economic burdens being faced by both parties (usually after an initial division of property) until they are able to achieve individual financial independence. Since Washington is a “no fault” divorce state, the judge will make a conclusive finding based solely on the unique economic circumstances of each case and not on any alleged marital misconduct or the previous behavior of either party.

In making its final determination, the court must also take into account whether the obligor, the spouse providing financial support, will be capable of meeting his own personal needs and financial obligations while providing for those of the recipient or petitioning spouse. A finding will be made that sets the length of time that payments will be made. Support orders are usually temporary, lasting only until both parties achieve independence and make the final transition from separation to divorce. Further court proceedings to finalize the length and amounts of future payments are common.

The process of enacting regular support payments is one best handled by an experienced Washington family law lawyer. The petitioning party collects financial data and files a motion with the court, giving proper notice and setting a hearing before the judge. Considering the sums of money involved, and the potential time frame that spousal and child support payments may be owed for; seeking the expertise of good Washington divorce lawyer is critical. Call our offices today to discuss your legal rights and obligations in any divorce or spousal maintenance proceedings.

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