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How long do Washington spousal maintenance payments last?

On Behalf of | Feb 1, 2024 | Spousal Maintenance

Spouses often combine resources and work together to enjoy a higher overall standard of living during their marriage. Sometimes, the decisions that they make require that one spouse become partially or even totally dependent on the other for financial support.

The decision to have one spouse focus on the home while the other one pursues their career can be a very efficient division of labor, but it can also prove problematic if the spouses eventually divorce. Someone who gave up their career or left it on the back burner to prioritize family needs to worry if they can actually support themselves after a Washington divorce.

They may worry about the outcome of property division proceedings. In some cases, they may also want to request spousal maintenance. In other states, people refer to spousal maintenance as spousal support or alimony.

How long can someone receiving spousal maintenance expect those payments to continue?

Judges or spouses set the duration

Some spouses face very little conflict about property division matters and spousal maintenance because they quickly reach an amicable agreement on these key divorce issues. Spouses can potentially set whatever terms they feel are reasonable and appropriate for social maintenance.

Other times, spouses might disagree about whether maintenance is necessary, how long it should last and how much each payment should be. If a Washington family judge orders maintenance, typically they order payments to last for a third of the length of the marriage. Someone married for six years, for example, might have a court order for two years of spousal maintenance payments.

In unusual or particularly imbalanced family scenarios, judges can deviate from that standard. There are also certain scenarios in which spouses could go back to court to request a change in spousal maintenance. Those situations include when the party making payments suffers a job loss or when the spouse receiving payments gets remarried.

Spouses who know how the courts typically handle these cases may feel more comfortable about reaching their own settlement in private negotiations. Ultimately, learning more about the rules that cover spousal maintenance and other financial divorce matters can make a big difference for those preparing for a Washington divorce.