If you’re going through a divorce the subject of alimony may inevitably come up. But what exactly is it?  Who pays it and who receives? Whether or not it is a factor in your particular case, it’s still good to understand what is it and how it works.

What Alimony Is and Who can File for it

Alimony is a payment from one spouse to the other in the case of a divorce. If one spouse needs to re-enter the job market or is unable to work alimony may be granted. Alimony is, in essence, assurance that that spouse can maintain the quality of life they are accustomed to living. 

Typically, a spouse who is reliant or dependent on the other for a specific standard of living can file for alimony. Alimony is decided by the court system.

What Factors Contribute to Alimony?

There are several factors under consideration when deciding a ruling. Factors such as age, health, liability, socio-economic status and employability all factor in. 

Likewise, children factor in too. If the dependent spouse is lacking finically and cannot support both themselves and their children, then alimony is heavily considered by the court system. 

In Washington state, marital fault is not considered when determining settlements. This is different from other states, where issues of domestic abuse, felony, and spousal cruelty are taken into consideration.

How Long Do Alimony Payments Last?

How long alimony payments last in Washington state is mainly up to the the court and judge presiding over the case. Typically, alimony payments function on a 1 to 3 ratio, meaning that the dependent party is to be paid 1 year of alimony for every three years of marriage. However, every case is different. Payments are decided on a case-to-case basis in Washington State, so no two cases will look exactly the same. There are three types:

Temporary, which is typically received by the dependent party on a month to month basis before a divorce is finalized.

Short-term, also known as rehabilitative. This type is awarded to the dependent spouse to sustain themselves until they are able to find gainful employment that allows them to maintain their current quality of life. Short-term payments are also paid while this spouse pursues a degree or other forms of training to open up more employment opportunities for themselves. 

Permanent payment may be awarded in some cases. Typically, permanent alimony is awarded to those dependents in marriages that lasted over 25 years and who are unable to financially take care of themselves.

It is important to note that in all of these the decision of how much alimony is awarded to the dependent spouse is decided at the discretion of the presiding judge. 

If you’re going through a divorce in Tacoma and are looking for advice and representation, contact us at The Narrows Law Group.

Read more about the Washington State Legislature’s factors that are considered in alimony.