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Protect Your Family, Future, and Financial Securityalimony case in Tacoma

Spousal maintenance is what most people understand as “alimony”. Spousal maintenance payments serve the function of equalizing the financial position of the parties to a divorce or compensate one party for their sacrifices during the marriage. If the parties have co-equal earning power during their marriage and similar opportunities for future financial security, spousal maintenance would not likely be a consideration. Unfortunately, quite often this is not the case.

When one spouse sacrifices their career to raise children or to advance the career or educational opportunities of their partner, certain inequities often arise. In these situations, the courts attempt to equalize the parties’ positions and provide for their future support through the award of alimony. The courts will also attempt to avoid excessive awards that are intended to punish the other party. This is why it is important to contact an experienced alimony lawyer in Tacoma.

What Are the Considerations for Alimony in WA?

Most often, the most important factors are the need of one party for spousal maintenance and the ability to pay of the other party; but these are only two factors of many. RCW 26.09.090 provides the court guidance to determine the amount and duration of spousal maintenance according to a variety of factors, such as the duration of the marriage, the financial needs of both spouses, and the standard of living established by the marriage.

Can I Receive a Tax Credit for Spousal Maintenance Paid?

The amount that is provided for spousal maintenance is generally considered a deductible expense by the IRS. This does not mean that all transfers to your prior spouse are going to be tax deductible. The IRS will likely require the amount paid to be properly documented by a court order, property settlement agreement, or separation agreement to be recognized as valid. Additionally, an agreement to pay the debts of the other party or to continue to pay for their expenses may not be recognized as a qualified deductible expense. Please seek the assistance of a tax professional prior to entering into any agreement.

How Long Will I Be Required to Pay Alimony?

There is no case law in Washington State that provides the number of years of maintenance that would be appropriate for a fixed period of marriage. The legislature and courts have given the trial judge a great deal of discretion to determine what would be appropriate after weighing all of the factors. The ultimate guidance given is to provide a fair and equitable distribution of the parties’ assets including any necessary determination for spousal maintenance.

Each situation is going to be unique and the judge will likely use their experiences from many years of private practice or time on the bench to reach a conclusion based on the law and the specific circumstances of the parties. It is impossible to determine how any judge will rule in any particular situation, but there are general guidelines that can be used as “rules of thumb” for possible outcomes. Basically, the length of maintenance would be approximately one year for every five years of marriage, but this is a broad average and many cases will have the duration either shorter or longer. Most often, marriages are broken down into short, medium, and long-term. When these periods of time are actually considered to occur is more controversial, but it can be generally stated that a short-term marriage is between 1 to 7 years, medium-term marriages between 7 to 20 years and long-term marriages from 20 years and upwards. Absent special circumstances, in most short-term marriages, the award of maintenance is deemed inappropriate but the special circumstances may call for temporary maintenance or long-term maintenance to be awarded. Most often, the courts will seek to place the parties back where they began financially in short-term marriages. For medium-term marriages, the goal is to seek a rehabilitative outcome that will allow the disadvantaged party to become independent or attain financial parity with the other party. While lifetime awards of maintenance would not be precluded upon a showing of need, a rehabilitative goal could in most circumstances be met without the need for lifetime maintenance. For long-term marriages, lifetime maintenance may be awarded upon clear evidence that the party seeking maintenance will not be able to contribute significantly to their own livelihood.

How Much Alimony Will I Be Required to Pay?

There is also great uncertainty, in spousal maintenance awards, in regards to the specific amount that would be awarded. It is difficult to say anything on this subject other than…it depends. The court will consider all of the factors listed above to reach a fair and equitable determination. The devil is in the details and how they are presented or interpreted.

Washington State’s spousal maintenance provisions leave a great deal to the discretion of the judge and provide scant guidance on what would be a fair and equitable outcome. For these reasons, it is imperative to present your position accurately and in the best light possible. An experienced spousal maintenance attorney in Tacoma will be able to effectively navigate you through the legal process.

Call our skilled Alimony Lawyers in Tacoma at (253) 210-2008 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.

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