Spouses often have very different personal circumstances, especially financially. If you make far more than your spouse or you don’t work at all, the differences in your economic circumstances can affect your legal rights.
It may not be an issue when you live together, but it could complicate matters when you decide to divorce. The two of you may share a household now, but there may be a massive difference in your earning potential or the overall value of your separate assets when you move to separate your lives.
Especially in a situation where one spouse makes far more than the other, or one spouse left the workplace to support the family or raise children, the Washington courts may order spousal maintenance or alimony payments during a divorce. How long will those payments typically last after the end of a marriage?
Spousal maintenance depends on need and other factors
There is no set rule that governs exactly how long one person can receive maintenance payments from their ex.
As a general rule, the Washington courts try to use maintenance as a form of rehabilitation for dependent spouses. It is typically a form of short-term support intended to help them reestablish a career. Typically, judges order maintenance payments that last anywhere from one-fifth to one-third of how long the marriage lasted.
However, in certain situations, judges may order long-lasting or even permanent alimony. These rare circumstances include situations where one spouse abandons the other due to health issues or a parent permanently leaves the workforce to care for the couple’s disabled child who will never live independently.
Learning about the rules that govern maintenance payments in Washington can help you plan your budget after your divorce.