Permanent Alimony

If you are unhappy in a marriage, you should have the ability to leave despite your financial situation. Spousal maintenance or alimony allows you to divorce your spouse even if you depend on them economically. Alimony is a court order for one spouse to make payments to another until they remarry or are financially independent. In Washington alimony is referred to as “spousal maintenance.”   

If the court grants you alimony, you may still be able to maintain your lifestyle and still divorce from your spouse. Your spouse must keep up with alimony payments or they may face penalties. There’s no reason for you to suffer economic hardship from this divorce. Contact an experienced divorce attorney now to analyze your case.

Lawyer for Permanent Alimony in King County, WA

People who are newly divorced often face financial insecurity. If you’re economically dependent on your spouse, divorce could mean a lot of stress for your wallet. Thankfully there are options for you. You could qualify for alimony and receive maintenance payments from your former spouse. 

Contact the attorneys at Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson to evaluate your case today. We have represented numerous clients in alimony proceedings. Our attorneys will use our skills and resources to help you get the outcome you deserve. Don’t go through this confusing legal process alone. Contact us now at (206) 712-2756 for a free consultation.

Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson represents clients throughout the greater King County area including Seattle, Bellevue, Kent and Redmond. We also accept clients in other areas such as Everett in Snohomish County. 

Overview of Permanent Alimony in Washington 


The Purpose of Spousal Maintenance in Washington

Alimony is a way to ensure that both spouses after divorce are self-sufficient after divorce. Couples who have significant income gaps may need alimony so both spouses can be financially independent. Spousal maintenance can be for a certain period of time or indefinitely. 

The function and purpose of spousal maintenance is to:

  • Provide the spouse an opportunity to obtain the education, training and skills needed to enter their desired field;
  • Provide a positive economic well-being for both parties after divorce; and/or
  • Provide a spouse a flexible means of asset transfer or property allocation during or after divorce. 

Types of Alimony in Seattle, Washington

Washington courts order alimony for a number of reasons. A spouse may need payments to help them enter the workforce. They could also need payments for assistance with their disability. No matter the circumstances, spouses seeking alimony should be familiar with the different types. 

Listed below are the different types of spousal maintenance in Washington.

  • Temporary Maintenance – Some couples only need alimony during divorce proceedings. Couples usually choose temporary alimony so they can preserve their family’s lifestyle while legal arrangements are being made.

  • Rehabilitative Maintenance – In some cases, one spouse may have been out of the workforce for a number of years. If this happens, they can request rehabilitative maintenance. The payments give the spouse an opportunity to get the skills, education and training needed to obtain employment.

  • Disability Maintenance – If one spouse has a disability they may request alimony. Disability maintenance allows the disabled spouse to get the assistance he or she needs.

  • Compensatory Maintenance –Spouses who have paid a significant amount of money to help the other gain the education, skills or training needed for their employment can seek alimony. The purpose of the alimony is to repay the spouse for their financial help in the past.

How Does the Court Decide Alimony in Washington?

Not all divorce proceedings include spousal maintenance. Washington court must analyze several factors before determining if alimony is appropriate. Some of these factors include how long the couple was married and their financial obligations. 

Listed below are the factors used in court to determine if a person needs spousal maintenance.

  • The separate property owned by each spouse;
  • The community property shared by both spouses;
  • If child support was given to either spouse;
  • The financial situation for each spouse;
  • The time necessary for one spouse to get the sufficient education, training or skills to enter the workforce;
  • The standard of living between the two during the marriage;
  • How long the marriage was;
  • The financial obligations, age, physical condition, and mental state of the spouse seeking maintenance; and
  • If the spouse who is paying alimony is able to meet payments and be financially independent.

Separate property is any asset that was owned before the marriage, given as a gif or inheritance, or was a part of a personal injury settlement. Community property is any asset that was accumulated during the marriage. In Washington, community property is split in a just and equitable manner between both spouses. 


How is Alimony Enforced in Washington?

Refusing to pay alimony can result in serious legal ramifications. Your spouse may be penalized if they are 15 days past due for a payment that is more than $100. If this occurs, you can seek a mandatory retirement benefits assignment order without notifying your spouse. You would be able to access some of your spouse’s retirement benefits without the hassle of additional court hearings. 

You can also choose to enforce alimony by filing for contempt of court. Contempt of court means that a person intentionally disobeyed a court order. If your spouse is found guilty of contempt, the court may impose one or more of the following sanctions:

  • Incarceration for a short period of time;
  • Mandatory forfeiture of up to $2,000 for each day the contempt of court continues; or
  • A court order that is designed to ensure compliance.

Can My Alimony Be Modified?

Spousal maintenance that’s non-modifiable cannot be adjusted. However, if the court granted you modifiable alimony the payments can be changed. You must prove that a significant or substantial change of circumstances occurred to have your alimony modified.

Some examples of substantial changes include unemployment and significant illness or injury. Most alimony agreements end when the other spouse remarries or dies. If you wish to modify your alimony, it’s recommended that you speak to an experienced divorce attorney. A divorce attorney can evaluate your case to see if you’re eligible for a maintenance modification.


Additional Resources

Washington Alimony Laws – Visit the official website for Washington State Legislature to find more information about spousal maintenance. Access the site to learn the purpose of spousal maintenance, the factors that go into deliberating alimony and other related divorce statues.  

Divorce Roadmap – Visit the official website for the King County court to access the “Divorce Roadmap.” Find more information about divorce, what forms are needed in divorce, how spousal maintenance works and resources for family court.


Attorney for Permanent Spousal Maintenance in Seattle, Washington

Have you filed for divorce recently? Are you seeking alimony from your former spouse? If so, it’s important that you gain quality legal representation. Contact an experienced divorce attorney today at Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson. 

The attorneys at Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson excel at practicing divorce and family law in King County. We understand the emotional and legal issues that surround divorce. Let us help you with our years of knowledge. Contact the attorneys at Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson today for a free consultation. 

Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson accepts clients throughout the greater Seattle area including surrounding communities such as Bellevue, Burien, Kent and Issaquah.


This article was last updated on December 18, 2018.

 

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