Spousal maintenance is found in RCW 26.09.09. In other jurisdictions, spousal maintenance is referred to as alimony. Spousal maintenance is an obligation of one person to provide financial support for his or her spouse during and after a marital separation or divorce.
Spousal maintenance can, but is not always, ordered by a court during dissolution/divorce proceedings.
The amount of spousal maintenance to be paid and the length of time the maintenance is to be paid is in the discretion of the court based on what the court deems is “just”. The Court considers several factors:
(a) The financial resources of the party seeking maintenance, including separate or community property apportioned to him or her, and his or her ability to meet his or her needs independently, including the extent to which a provision for support of a child living with the party includes a sum for that party;
(b) The time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find employment appropriate to his or her skill, interests, style of life, and other attendant circumstances;
(c) The standard of living established during the marriage or domestic partnership;
(d) The duration of the marriage or domestic partnership;
(e) The age, physical and emotional condition, and financial obligations of the spouse or domestic partner seeking maintenance; and
(f) The ability of the spouse or domestic partner from whom maintenance is sought to meet his or her needs and financial obligations while meeting those of the spouse or domestic partner seeking maintenance.
The court will also balance one party’s need and the other party’s ability to pay by reviewing income, assets, expenses, child support payments, job security, etc.