Spousal Maintenance and Alimony

Alimony Lawyers and Alimony Modification

At Tsai Law Company, our Washington State Alimony Lawyers can assist you in alimony/spousal support modification, inform you of your alimony rights, and even stop the payment of alimony.  Call us today to asses how much alimony/spousal support you are eligible to receive.

Alimony in Washington StateSpousal maintenance or “Alimony” is when one spouse pays support to the other spouse in a divorce.  The law regarding alimony is codified in RCW 26.09.090 which states as follows: “Maintenance orders for either spouse or either domestic partner — Factors. (1) In a proceeding for dissolution of marriage or domestic partnership, legal separation, declaration of invalidity, or in a proceeding for maintenance following dissolution of the marriage or domestic partnership by a court which lacked personal jurisdiction over the absent spouse or absent domestic partner, the court may grant a maintenance order for either spouse or either domestic partner. The maintenance order shall be in such amounts and for such periods of time as the court deems just, without regard to misconduct, after considering all relevant factors including but not limited to: (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. [2008 c 6 § 1012; 1989 c 375 § 6; 1973 1st ex.s. c 157 § 9.]” Contact a Seattle Divorce Lawyer to discuss the specific application of RCW 26.09.090 as it applies to your alimony case.

The recipient of spousal maintenance/alimony support also has options regarding how it should be paid.  The logistics of payment is codified in RCW 26.09.120. Specifically, that statute states: Support or maintenance payments — To whom paid. (1) The court shall order support payments, including maintenance if child support is ordered, to be made to the Washington state support registry, or the person entitled to receive the payments under an order approved by the court as provided in RCW 26.23.050. (2) Maintenance payments, when ordered in an action where there is no dependent child, may be ordered to be paid to the person entitled to receive the payments, or the clerk of the court as trustee for remittance to the persons entitled to receive the payments. (3) If support or maintenance payments are made to the clerk of court, the clerk: (a) Shall maintain records listing the amount of payments, the date when payments are required to be made, and the names and addresses of the parties affected by the order; (b) May by local court rule accept only certified funds or cash as payment; and (c) Shall accept only certified funds or cash for five years in all cases after one check has been returned for nonsufficient funds or account closure. (4) The parties affected by the order shall inform the registry through which the payments are ordered to be paid of any change of address or of other conditions that may affect the administration of the order. [2008 c 6 § 1015; 1994 c 230 § 2; 1989 c 360 § 11. Prior: 1987 c 435 § 15; 1987 c 363 § 5; 1983 1st ex.s. c 45 § 3; 1973 1st ex.s. c 157 § 12.] Contact a Seattle Divorce Lawyer to discuss the specific application of RCW 26.09.120 as it applies to your alimony case.

For purposes of enforcement, the recipient of maintenance/alimony support also may have a mandatory assignment of public retirement benefits. RCW 26.09.138 states:  Mandatory assignment of public retirement benefits — Remedies exclusive. (1) Any obligee of a court order or decree establishing a spousal maintenance obligation may seek a mandatory benefits assignment order under chapter 41.50 RCW if any spousal maintenance payment is more than fifteen days past due and the total of such past due payments is equal to or greater than one hundred dollars, or if the obligor requests a withdrawal of accumulated contributions from the department of retirement systems. (2) Any court order or decree establishing a spousal maintenance obligation may state that, if any spousal maintenance payment is more than fifteen days past due and the total of such past due payments is equal to or greater than one hundred dollars, or if the obligor requests a withdrawal of accumulated contributions from the department of retirement systems, the obligee may seek a mandatory benefits assignment order under chapter 41.50 RCW without prior notice to the obligor. Any such court order or decree may also, or in the alternative, contain a provision that would allow the department to make a direct payment of all or part of a withdrawal of accumulated contributions pursuant to RCW 41.50.550(3). Failure to include this provision does not affect the validity of the court order or decree establishing the spousal maintenance, nor does such failure affect the general applicability of RCW 41.50.500 through 41.50.650 to such obligations. (3) The remedies in RCW 41.50.530 through 41.50.630 are the exclusive provisions of law enforceable against the department of retirement systems in connection with any action for enforcement of a spousal maintenance obligation ordered pursuant to a divorce, dissolution, or legal separation, and no other remedy ordered by a court under this chapter shall be enforceable against the department of retirement systems for collection of spousal maintenance. (4)(a) Nothing in this section regarding mandatory assignment of benefits to enforce a spousal maintenance obligation shall abridge the right of an ex spouse to receive direct payment of retirement benefits payable pursuant to: (i) A court decree of dissolution or legal separation; or (ii) any court order or court-approved property settlement agreement; or (iii) incident to any court decree of dissolution or legal separation, if such dissolution orders fully comply with RCW 41.50.670 and 41.50.700, or as applicable, RCW 2.10.180, 2.12.090, *41.04.310, 41.04.320, 41.04.330, **41.26.180, 41.32.052, 41.40.052, or 43.43.310 as those statutes existed before July 1, 1987, and as those statutes exist on and after July 28, 1991. (b) Persons whose dissolution orders as defined in RCW 41.50.500(3) were entered between July 1, 1987, and July 28, 1991, shall be entitled to receive direct payments of retirement benefits to satisfy court-ordered property divisions if the dissolution orders filed with the department comply or are amended to comply with RCW 41.50.670 through 41.50.720 and, as applicable, RCW 2.10.180, 2.12.090, **41.26.180, 41.32.052, 41.40.052, or 43.43.310. [1991 c 365 § 24; 1987 c 326 § 26.]

The current law regarding modification of alimony is codified in RCW 26.09.170. Specifically, that statute states: RCW 26.09.170 Modification of decree for maintenance or support, property disposition — Termination of maintenance obligation and child support — Grounds. (1) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (7) of RCW 26.09.070, the provisions of any decree respecting maintenance or support may be modified: (a) Only as to installments accruing subsequent to the petition for modification or motion for adjustment except motions to compel court-ordered adjustments, which shall be effective as of the first date specified in the decree for implementing the adjustment; and, (b) except as otherwise provided in subsections (5), (6), (9), and (10) of this section, only upon a showing of a substantial change of circumstances. The provisions as to property disposition may not be revoked or modified, unless the court finds the existence of conditions that justify the reopening of a judgment under the laws of this state. (2) Unless otherwise agreed in writing or expressly provided in the decree the obligation to pay future maintenance is terminated upon the death of either party or the remarriage of the party receiving maintenance or registration of a new domestic partnership of the party receiving maintenance. (3) Unless otherwise agreed in writing or expressly provided in the decree, provisions for the support of a child are terminated by emancipation of the child or by the death of the parent obligated to support the child. (4) Unless expressly provided by an order of the superior court or a court of comparable jurisdiction, the support provisions of the order are terminated upon the marriage or registration of a domestic partnership to each other of parties to a paternity order, or upon remarriage or registration of a domestic partnership to each other of parties to a decree of dissolution. The remaining provisions of the order, including provisions establishing paternity, remain in effect. (5) An order of child support may be modified one year or more after it has been entered without showing a substantial change of circumstances: (a) If the order in practice works a severe economic hardship on either party or the child; (b) If a party requests an adjustment in an order for child support which was based on guidelines which determined the amount of support according to the child’s age, and the child is no longer in the age category on which the current support amount was based; (c) If a child is still in high school, upon a finding that there is a need to extend support beyond the eighteenth birthday to complete high school; or (d) To add an automatic adjustment of support provision consistent with RCW 26.09.100. (6) An order or decree entered prior to June 7, 1984, may be modified without showing a substantial change of circumstances if the requested modification is to: (a) Require health insurance coverage for a child named therein; or (b) Modify an existing order for health insurance coverage. (7) An obligor’s voluntary unemployment or voluntary underemployment, by itself, is not a substantial change of circumstances. (8) The department of social and health services may file an action to modify an order of child support if public assistance money is being paid to or for the benefit of the child and the child support order is twenty-five percent or more below the appropriate child support amount set forth in the standard calculation as defined in RCW 26.19.011 and reasons for the deviation are not set forth in the findings of fact or order. The determination of twenty-five percent or more shall be based on the current income of the parties and the department shall not be required to show a substantial change of circumstances if the reasons for the deviations were not set forth in the findings of fact or order. (9)(a) All child support decrees may be adjusted once every twenty-four months based upon changes in the income of the parents without a showing of substantially changed circumstances. Either party may initiate the adjustment by filing a motion and child support worksheets. (b) A party may petition for modification in cases of substantially changed circumstances under subsection (1) of this section at any time. However, if relief is granted under subsection (1) of this section, twenty-four months must pass before a motion for an adjustment under (a) of this subsection may be filed. (c) If, pursuant to (a) of this subsection or subsection (10) of this section, the court adjusts or modifies a child support obligation by more than thirty percent and the change would cause significant hardship, the court may implement the change in two equal increments, one at the time of the entry of the order and the second six months from the entry of the order. Twenty-four months must pass following the second change before a motion for an adjustment under (a) of this subsection may be filed. (d) A parent who is receiving transfer payments who receives a wage or salary increase may not bring a modification action pursuant to subsection (1) of this section alleging that increase constitutes a substantial change of circumstances. (e) The department of social and health services may file an action at any time to modify an order of child support in cases of substantially changed circumstances if public assistance money is being paid to or for the benefit of the child. The determination of the existence of substantially changed circumstances by the department that lead to the filing of an action to modify the order of child support is not binding upon the court. (10) An order of child support may be adjusted twenty-four months from the date of the entry of the decree or the last adjustment or modification, whichever is later, based upon changes in the economic table or standards in chapter 26.19 RCW. [2008 c 6 § 1017; 2002 c 199 § 1; 1997 c 58 § 910; 1992 c 229 § 2; 1991 sp.s. c 28 § 2; 1990 1st ex.s. c 2 § 2; 1989 c 416 § 3; 1988 c 275 § 17; 1987 c 430 § 1; 1973 1st ex.s. c 157 § 17.]

Contact a Seattle Divorce Lawyer at TLC to discuss the specific application of RCW 26.09.170 as it applies to your alimony case.