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Spousal Maintenance/Alimony

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Divorce Attorneys in Everett, WA (Snohomish County)

Maintenance (also commonly referred to as alimony or spousal support) is a legal obligation placed upon one spouse by the Court to provide financial support to the other spouse during and/or after a divorce case. Maintenance is available to spouses of either sex, as well as to registered domestic partners. Maintenance has been called the “flexible tool by which the parties’ standard of living may be equalized for an appropriate period of time.” Washburn v. Washburn, 101 Wn.2d 168, 178-79, 677 P.2d 152 (1984).

RCW 26.09.090 provides the statutory basis for a maintenance award to a spouse or domestic partner. The statute considers several non-exclusive factors in determining an award of spousal maintenance, such as available financial resources, the standard of living during the marriage or domestic partnership, the duration of the marriage or domestic partnership, the age, physical and emotional condition of the requesting party, and the needs of the requesting party vs. the ability to pay of the other party. Because the statutory factors are not exclusive, anything (other than marital fault) impacting upon the parties’ financial circumstances is a relevant consideration. The Court has broad discretion in awarding maintenance, and the overriding concern is that the award must be just in light of all the relevant factors. Again, as previously mentioned, the Court can order a spouse or domestic partner to pay maintenance on a temporary basis while the case is pending.

Once maintenance is ordered, it can be modified if there is a “substantial change in circumstances.” RCW 26.09.170. Anything affecting the needs of the requesting party vs. the ability to pay of the other party (e.g., loss of income, health issues, etc.) can be a substantial change.

Contact Berner Law Group, PLLC to speak with a divorce lawyer/family law attorney in Snohomish County today! We’re conveniently located directly across the street from the Snohomish County Superior Court in downtown Everett.