When does a judge award spousal maintenance?

On Behalf of | Oct 18, 2019 | Divorce

As the spouse who managed the household and raised the children, you may worry that after your Washington divorce, you will have to work at a minimum-wage job. This will substantially affect your standard of living, which does not seem fair since your spouse could not have enjoyed such a successful career without your support.

The good news is, according to Washington RCW 26.09.090, you may be eligible to receive alimony, also known as maintenance. The judge considers a number of factors when deciding whether to award maintenance.

Financial resources and obligations

The judge will assess all sources of income you and your spouse have, including child support (as an obligation for one spouse and a resource for the other). The division of the community property and any separate property you and your spouse have will also affect a maintenance decision.

Standard of living

If you have lived in a three-story house overlooking Puget Sound throughout your marriage, the judge is not likely to expect you to move into a one-bedroom apartment in a bad neighborhood. Rather, the goal is to allow you and your spouse to each enjoy a standard of living as close as possible to what you had during the marriage.

Personal factors

Being in poor health or having a disability that would make it difficult or impossible to sustain meaningful employment would certainly be a factor. In addition to your mental and physical health, the judge will also consider your age.


You may not have a marketable skill at the moment, but perhaps there is a field you have always wanted to train for. A judge may award you maintenance while you are getting the education or training you need to qualify for meaningful employment.

Your marriage

Whether infidelity contributed to the end of your marriage is not something the judge considers. However, how long your marriage lasted is a relevant consideration.

Other factors

Your case likely has a number of unique elements that the law does not list specifically. The judge has the authority and discretion to consider every aspect of your case before coming to a decision.