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Washington Spousal Support Laws

Spousal support, also called alimony, consists of cash payments made by one ex-spouse to the other after a divorce. The idea behind alimony is to allow the ex-spouse seeking support to maintain the lifestyle to which they were accustomed during the marriage. Spousal support usually is sought from the ex-spouse that earned or has less money.

It's important to realize that spousal support isn't always guaranteed; instead, it's determined on a case-by-case basis. Many states, including Washington, have laws that outline the factors used to determine whether or not an individual is entitled to receive alimony. In Washington, spousal support is referred to as "maintenance" and the laws governing alimony also apply to former domestic partners.

An Overview of Washington Spousal Support Laws

The following table provides an overview of spousal support laws in Washington as well as links to relevant statutes. While this is a good place to start learning more about the law, it's important to read the actual statute and consult with an attorney when you have specific questions.


Washington Revised Code:

Factors to Determine if Spousal Support Should Be Awarded

A maintenance order is granted based on all relevant factors including (but not limited to):

  • The financial resources of the person seeking maintenance;
  • Standard of living the couple had during the marriage/domestic partnership;
  • The time the party seeking maintenance would need to acquire sufficient education/training to allow them to find a job that's appropriate to their skill, interests, and lifestyle;
  • The length of the marriage/domestic partnership;
  • The physical and emotional condition, age, and financial obligations of the party seeking maintenance; and
  • The ability of the person who would pay the support to meet their own financial obligations while meeting those of the spouse/domestic partner seeking maintenance.
How Are Alimony Payments Made?

The court will order support payments, including maintenance if child support is ordered, to be made to the Washington state support registry or directly to the person entitled to receive the payments under an order approved by the court.

Related Statute(s)

Washington Revised Code:

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Washington Spousal Support Laws: Related Resources

For additional information and resources related to this topic, please visit the links listed below.

Have Questions About Washington Spousal Support Laws? Ask an Attorney

As you can see, alimony in Washington state is only awarded based on certain factors. If you have questions about alimony, it's a good idea to contact a local divorce lawyer who can explain how Washington spousal support laws apply to your particular situation and help you through other aspects of the divorce process.

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