Permanent Spousal Support in Washington State
How Your Ex-Wife Could Collect Checks for Life
Turn on the radio right now and you will likely hear a song about finding love or losing love.
But no songs about Spousal Support or Alimony. Why is that?
Given the fact that thousands of men pay Alimony to their ex-wives every month, you would think there would be at least a few songs about it.
Especially when you consider the sobering reality that some men will pay Alimony until the day they die.
Until She Remarries – or You Die
Permanent Alimony is an everlasting part of the marriage that never ends. Once in place, the paying spouse, almost always the husband, will pay his ex-wife until she remarries or until he dies.
Care to take a guess which usually happens first?
Even Child Support and Custody, often two of the most contentious issues in a Divorce, end when the children turn 18. Permanent Alimony never ends and it can be renegotiated in court at any time, often with the ex-wife requesting, and receiving, more money.
It will continue through a man’s career and into his retirement. Many elderly men pay Alimony out of their monthly social security check.
Does the State of Washington Allow Permanent Alimony?
Washington Spousal Support Rules and Regulations
In divorce proceedings in Washington State, Alimony is legally referred to as “Maintenance” in court documents.
Alimony is also commonly called “Spousal Support“.
Regardless of the term used, it still means an ex-husband is paying to support his ex-wife.
Can Permanent Alimony be ordered in a Divorce in the State of Washington?
The short answer is, ‘Yes’.
Although it is uncommon, Permanent Alimony can be ordered in Washington State. Unlike Child Support, there is no set formula the court follows to set maintenance. This gives individual judges wide discretion in determining what amount, and for length of time, Spousal Support is considered fair. This includes ordering life-long maintenance.
The court considers several factors including the length of the marriage, the earning potential of each spouse, and the current financial situation of each spouse. The goal of the maintenance, for Washington Divorce Court Judges, is to set the spouses on the path to being self-sufficient.
When the wife has not worked, or worked very little during the marriage, the court will often order maintenance to give the wife some time to return to the work force and acquire the education necessary to be able to support herself. Using the years of the marriage as a guide, this support could last from a few years to 5 – 10 years.
In a Divorce involving a marriage that lasted more than 25 years though, there is a far greater likelihood that long-term, or even permanent maintenance, will be ordered.
For such lengthy marriages, Washington Divorce Court Judges look to the standard of placing the parties on “equal financial footing” for life.
Many judges meet this standard by ordering life-long Spousal Support.
Is Alimony Old Fashioned?
Spousal Support is Based on Some Pretty Dated Ideas
In many ways, Alimony is deeply rooted in the social norms of the past.
It calls to mind a time when women were not educated and wives never worked outside the home. Completely dependent on their husbands for financial support, such women would be left destitute by a Divorce.
Under such circumstances, courts were obliged to order men leaving their wives to provide support until the ex-wife was able to remarry and find another man to support her.
Such old fashion concepts seem completely out of touch with modern life in the 21st century.
Equal education opportunities mean that wives are as likely as husbands to have a college degree. In a great number of families, both spouses work, and women are less likely now to permanently leave the workforce to raise children.
Despite the dramatic culture shifts toward greater education and employment for women, Alimony, and all of it’s antiquated notions about gender roles, still exists.
Only, now, many of the women receiving Alimony are highly educated professionals, fully capable of supporting themselves.
Duration of Spousal Support Payments
You Can Pay for More Years Than You Were Married
When Alimony is made permanent, it keeps part of the marriage alive indefinitely.
Just like when they were married, the man continues to provide substantial monthly support for his ex-wife. Many men can expect to pay Alimony for decades to come. Some men even find themselves in the bizarre situation of paying Alimony for more years than the marriage lasted.
Spousal Support Stops Remarriage
You’re Counting on Your Ex to ‘Do the Right Thing’
One of the quaint notions inherent in the concept of Alimony is that women are unable to take care of themselves and require the financial support of a man.
Alimony payments support a divorced women until she is able to find a new husband to take care of her. This is why Alimony terminates when a woman remarries.
Such limitations made sense 60 years ago when couples did not live together without getting married. In the modern era, however, marriage is no longer seen as a requirement for people to cohabitate.
As a result, a divorced woman can live happily with a new partner for decades, all the while still collecting an Alimony check every month from her ex-husband.
The financial burden of paying Alimony also hinders divorced men from getting married again.
They may be unable to afford to support a new family and pay Alimony. The situation becomes even worse when the new wife is forced to help pay the Alimony.
When Your Second Wife Pays Your Ex-Wife
If You Get Remarried, Your New Wife’s Income is Added to Your Household Income
When a divorced man remarries, his monthly Alimony payments become part of the new family’s budget.
So in an indirect way, his new wife’s income goes towards paying Alimony to his ex-wife. Unfortunately, the income of the second wife can also directly affect how much Alimony the first wife receives.
When a Divorce Court sets the dollar amount of Alimony, it looks at the financial needs of the ex-wife in comparison to the financial stability of the ex-husband.
In simple terms, Alimony is based on the man’s ability to pay.
This becomes an issue when the income of the second wife is included as part of the total household income.
Many ex-wives have argued that the second income from the new wife now allows the man to pay additional Alimony. It also makes it harder to request a reduction in Alimony from the court as the total household income is now increased. All these challenges force many divorced men to not get remarried.
The burden on new wives has also led to the formation of Second Wives Clubs in many states to campaign for changes in Alimony laws. Especially for limits on Permanent Alimony.
Future Stolen Through Financial Burden
Spousal Support Can Limit Your Ability to Follow Your Dreams
For a divorced man, Permanent Alimony is a constant financial burden that limits his choices for the future and hinders his life goals.
Instead of being able to start a new life after a divorce, he is constantly held back from making real progress, always being forced to calculate the cost of his Alimony into decisions about the future.
Once Permanent Alimony is ordered by the court, it can be very difficult to end it.
In Washington, it is possible to ask the court to reduce the value of Maintenance payments. Especially if there has been a substantial decrease in the ex-husband’s income since the Divorce.
The best way to deal with Permanent Alimony is to never have the court order it in the first place.
During Divorce proceedings, an experienced Divorce Attorney can argue against the amount, and length, of Spousal Support – as well as the need for Alimony at all.
A skilled Divorce Lawyer is best able to show the court an ex-wife’s education level, work experience, and potential to support herself after the Divorce.
Such compelling arguments help make the case for either limiting Alimony, or denying it outright.
Related Content: The Manimony Paradox: Why Men Don’t Ask for Alimony
Talk to a Divorce Lawyers For Men
We Can Help Protect You From Unfair Spousal Support Payments
Divorce Lawyers For Men attorneys advise and assist Washington husbands in Divorce.
We fight hard against unreasonable Spousal Maintenance, including Permanent Alimony.
We help men currently going through Divorce, as well as divorced men paying unreasonable Spousal Support.
Call us today at 1 (877) 866-7393, or begin filling out our contact form below, to speak with an attorney who understands your situation and can provide a way out.
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