How Is Alimony Calculated in Seattle?

Posted On May 24, 2024 Spousal Support

Alimony or spousal support is not guaranteed in divorce cases. However, judges have the discretion to award alimony if they determine a need for financial support. Some of the factors that judges consider when determining whether to grant alimony include:

The Lenth of the Marriage

Generally, judges grant alimony for long-term marriages, especially when one spouse is a homemaker. Being out of the workforce for extended periods can harm the spouse’s ability to earn a sufficient living after a divorce.

For marriages shorter than five years, judges rarely award long-term alimony. If they award alimony, it is only for a few months and might only last during the divorce proceeding. By contrast, long-term marriages may result in lifelong alimony payments. Mid-length marriages could result in alimony payments for about a fourth to a third of the length of the marriage.

Child Custody and Child Support

The judge considers whether a spouse will be ordered to pay or will receive child support payments. The judge might reduce alimony payments when a spouse already receives child support. It depends on the facts of the case and whether the other spouse has the financial means to pay both child support and alimony.

Property Division

Dividing community property in a Washington divorce can be complicated. The judge decides an equitable distribution of marital assets if the parties disagree about property division. The division of property and assets can impact alimony payments.

Other Factors Judges Consider When Deciding Alimony Cases

Judges may consider other factors that they deem relevant to deciding alimony cases. Those factors include, but are not limited to:

  • The health and ages of the spouses
  • The estimated time it will take for a spouse to become self-sufficient
  • Whether the spouse receiving alimony needs to obtain additional education, experience, or skills to get a job
  • The couple’s standard of living during the marriage
  • The income disparity between the spouses
  • Individual or separate assets belonging to each spouse
  • The educational accomplishment and professional skills of the spouse to receive support
  • The present and future earning capacity of each spouse

Judges cannot consider marital wrongdoing when deciding whether to award alimony. Fault for the breakup of the marriage is not considered. Also, judges cannot give preference to either spouse based on their gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, or other characteristics. Both spouses have an equal right to receive alimony if the facts justify an alimony award.

Can the Court Modify Alimony Payments After the Divorce Is Final?

Yes, the court may modify its order for alimony after the divorce is final. However, the spouse petitioning for modification of alimony must have evidence proving a substantial change in circumstances. The substantial change in circumstances must relate to the financial need of the spouse receiving alimony or the ability to pay alimony by the spouse paying alimony.

Furthermore, the change in circumstances must be something that the parties did not contemplate when the court entered the original order. A voluntary reduction of income or increasing expenses by choice is generally insufficient to modify alimony payments.

When Does Alimony Terminate in Washington State?

Generally, alimony terminates when either spouse dies or the spouse receiving alimony remarries or cohabitates with someone. However, a judge includes a specific termination date in the alimony order. Furthermore, spouses can agree to an end date for alimony as part of a divorce settlement agreement.

How Do Pre-Nuptial and Post-Nuptial Agreements Impact Alimony in Seattle, WA?

Pre and post-marital agreements can impact alimony awards during divorces. The parties may have addressed alimony in their pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement. If so, the court will honor the agreement if the pre or post-nuptial agreement is valid and legally enforceable.

A marital agreement can simplify divorce proceedings. By settling issues such as alimony, the parties do not need to litigate matters. The issues are resolved before the parties decide to end the marriage.

An Experienced Family Lawyer Can Protect Your Interests

If you have questions about alimony, contact a divorce lawyer. An attorney can explain your rights and options for seeking alimony during a divorce. Whether you are paying or receiving alimony, having sound legal advice and representation helps ensure you are treated fairly.

Contact the Washington Divorce Lawyers at Twyford Law Office To Get Legal Assistance Today

To learn more and get the help you deserve, call our divorce lawyers or reach out to Twyford Law Office online by visiting our contact us page. You can also visit our office at your nearest location.

Twyford Law Office – Seattle Office
814 Second Avenue, Suite 515,
Seattle, WA 98104

(206) 590-7085

Twyford Law Office – Spokane Office
430 W Indiana Ave,
Spokane, WA 99205

(509) 327 0777

Twyford Law Office – Bellevue Office
1408 140th Pl NE Suite 400,
Bellevue, WA 98007

(425) 517-3350


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