Spousal Support in Washington State

Washington State Spousal Support

Learn everything you need to know about Spousal Support, formerly known as Alimony

Spousal Support (also known as spousal maintenance or alimony) is money paid by the higher wage earning spouse to the lower wage earning spouse. For many Washington men, this means paying their wives monthly alimony during and after the divorce.

Unlike Child Support, spousal support is not calculated by a fixed formula.  In some instances, it is not ordered, such as cases where both spouses have comparable employment and income.  However, spousal support can be, and often is, ordered when one spouse has not been employed or trained for employment.  It’s particularly true when there is a long-term marriage or if there are young children in the marriage.  Spousal support can be short- or long-term.  The amount is calculated on factors such as income and length of marriage.

It’s vitally important to have your rights and obligations thoroughly evaluated.

How Much Spousal Support Do I Have to Pay?

Husbands often still make more money than their wives. If you make more money than your spouse, you may be concerned that you will end up paying her support for the rest of your life. While lifelong support is not common, the court may order support for any set period of time.


In a divorce, Washington courts strive to lessen the hardship placed on the more financially-dependent spouse by the ending of the marriage. The court looks at the length of the marriage and what the dependent spouse will need to become self-sufficient. It also considers the ability of the higher earning spouse to pay, but the needs of the weak are often found to be more important than the ability of the strong to pay.

The longer the marriage, and the more time your spouse has been unemployed or underemployed, the more likely spousal support will be ordered. However, it is not an absolute given and, it does not necessarily have to last forever. The family law courts in Washington have enormous discretion when determining the appropriate support award and the duration of the alimony payments. There is no State schedule for spousal support like there is for child support. This makes alimony and spousal support one of the more complex, and risky, family law issues in Washington.

Not Splitting Property

Spousal support is different from the division of community property that also occurs in a divorce. With spousal support, the court is seeking to set both spouses on a path towards an equal income, not property.

As a husband, you may find yourself in this situation faced by many other men. You worked full-time outside the home during the marriage while your wife stayed home and took care of the children. After your divorce, how much time will your wife need to become able to support herself? What type of job can she get? Does she need additional schooling? These are all questions the court will consider in determining the amount and length of alimony.

Does the Husband Always Pay?

No, not at all. If your wife makes more income than you, it is equally possible for you to ask for support. If your wife is highly educated, and she has been out of the workforce for only a short time, or your marriage was very brief; the court may decide on very little or no support. If your wife currently works full-time and makes the same amount of money as you, the court may not even consider alimony.

It is important to build a case for or against spousal support. Even in uncontested divorces, spousal support may be awarded by the court. Due to this uncertainty, you need an experienced attorney to provide thoughtful, prudent advice and to negotiate a reasonable settlement.

“My wife went to a better college than me. She worked full time as a manager until last year. I didn’t think it was fair that she wanted alimony for the next five years. Thankfully, neither did Divorce Lawyers For Men.” – Marcus D.

Divorce Lawyers For Men™ is dedicated to providing men the aggressive representation needed to protect your interests during the divorce process and into the future. We can advise you on the best approach to spousal support in your case. Contact us today to schedule your 30-minute consultation with a divorce attorney.

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