Palimony and Alimony in Washington

Breakdown of Financial Aid for Married and Unmarried Couples

We are often asked about the rights of support of married and unmarried couples in Washington. Maintenance is the spousal support that one (ex) spouse pays to the other after the divorce. Palimony refers to support from one partner to another after the relationship ends, much like alimony in a divorce.

In Washington, spousal allowance is usually given to help balance the economic circumstances of the prospective parties. A number of factors are taken into account when determining how much to give and for how long, including:

    • expected future income
    • Length of marriage
    • Health of the parties
    • Communal property given to everyone
    • separate property from each

Consideration of future income relates primarily to the question of the level of support. Maintenance can be provided in an amount that balances the parties’ income for a period of time, or it can be less. This could include examining whether training may be needed to increase income, the extent to which job opportunities have been foregone to help the entire couple (the traditional model of a spouse looking after the home while the other looks after Generation focused on income) or the extent to which employment opportunities were foregone for other reasons. As a rule, decisions made by one party during the marriage are considered decisions made by the couple.

On the other hand, Length of marriage rather relates to the question of the duration of the support. In general, the longer the marriage, the longer the maintenance time. In a short marriage, the primary focus may be on a short period of maintenance so that an inactive spouse has time to find work and support themselves. In a very long-term marriage, there may no longer be realistic opportunities to find significant employment, requiring long-term or even permanent child support.

Associated with this are issues related to the Health of the parties. For example, if a party is unable to work full-time or not at all due to health or disability problems, this affects not only their own income potential, but also the length of time they can receive maintenance.

And of course that propertyRegardless of the community, that each party deviates from marriage, which affects the need for maintenance or solvency. For example, if one party has significant separate property, the court may be inclined to lend the other party more assistance through marriage in order to reach some settlement. On the flip side, a court may decide to assign more common property (or even separate property from the other spouse) to the lower-income spouse in order to offset the economic situation, which in turn may reduce the alimony allowance in that case.

Does Washington take gender into account when determining spousal support?

People sometimes believe that spouse support prices are gender specific and that men support women. In fact, Washington law is gender neutral when it comes to spouse support. On the other hand, the wife was more often supported in a divorce because the wife was more often the low-wage earner. The reasons for this range from unequal wage standards to social constructs about the relative role of wives and husbands in marriages. As these factors decrease, the gender gap in alimony should decrease as well. However, there is still the possibility that a particular judge could continue to be influenced by old social norms and be less inclined to support a man than a woman.

Who can receive Palimony in Washington?

Another interesting question is whether or not Palimony can be ordered by the court. In fact, Washington law does not provide any specific provisions for support awards (other than child benefit) when there is no marriage. Washington, however, provides for a division of property between some unmarried couples according to the CIR (Committed Intimate Relationship) doctrine. The court would first have to determine that a CIR exists. In general, this means that the couple has had a long-term, stable, marriage-like relationship. However, even with a CIR, there are no maintenance payments like assistance.

On the other hand, it might be interesting to see an argument that the couple’s property should be divided unequally to make up for a difference in economic circumstances between the parties instead of palimony, similar to the argument often made in divorce cases.

Individuals who have entered into domestic partnerships should be aware that in many cases these will automatically be converted into marriages after the same-sex marriage law changes. If it converted to marriage, it would also open the door for arguments in favor of spousal support.

Include Palimony in a coexistence agreement

One situation in which Palimony might be available is that the couple have entered into a special cohabitation agreement that specifically provides support in the event the relationship ends. Cohabitation agreements, as well as pre- and post-marital agreements, can be good ways of reaching agreements that cover both cohabitation and post-relationship agreements, based on the couple’s values ​​rather than standard law in force.

I’m not aware of any movement to introduce palimony laws in Washington, so I wouldn’t expect it to be available anywhere in the near future. Future support agreements are a good topic to discuss if you are entering into a marriage or a marriage-like relationship, and to consider having a Seattle divorce service help you with a marriage or partnership arrangement to cover any decisions that the Partners come the way they want their relationship to be structured.

If you think you should get palimony or spouse assistance – or if you want to make sure you will receive it in the future – contact Seattle Divorce Services today.

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