Seattle Spousal Support Attorney

The stress of ending a marriage is often compounded by financial concerns. In most instances, the court orders the higher-earning spouse to pay the other spouse monthly spousal support to cater for their reasonable financial needs.

Also known as “spousal maintenance” or “alimony,” spousal support is often a heated, contentious issue in most Seattle divorce cases. After all, no partner would want to walk away empty-handed, bearing in mind that there are bills to pay and mouths to feed.

With a wealth of experience under our belts, the Seattle spousal support lawyers at Petrelli Previtera understand what it takes to successfully litigate or negotiate divorce cases where alimony is involved. As your legal advocate, we will walk you through all aspects of your divorce to protect your best interests.

What is the Purpose of Spousal Support?

The main purpose of spousal support in Seattle, WA, is to provide for the financial health of a lower-earning or non-earning spouse after separation. Part of the justification is that an ex-spouse may have chosen to abandon a career or job opportunity to support the family, and needs time to develop skills to enable them achieve financial independence. 

Another purpose of spousal support is to accord a spouse the same standard of living they had prior to the divorce despite changes in income, income tax, tax returns, etc.

How is Spousal Support Determined in Seattle?

Several factors typically come into play when determining support payments in Seattle, WA. The first is income disparity, defined as the capacity to earn income. The court goes over each partner’s position, then reviews their current job, and finally looks at the earning potential in that particular field or position.

Next, the court looks at the length of the marriage. The longer the couple has been married, the better the chances of receiving spousal support. 

Lastly, the court considers the various contributions made to the marriage. If, for instance, one partner quits his or her job in order to take care of the kids while the other kept on working, it’s likely that spousal support will be awarded. In some situations, the court orders spousal support to be provided until the individual has accumulated enough training or education to become self-sufficient.

However, even before considering the factors listed above, Seattle courts first determine whether there is a need for alimony and whether there is an ability to pay alimony. The two must correlate for spousal support payments to pull through.

Who Qualifies for Spousal Support in Seattle?

In Washington State, only those who are (or were) married or in a qualifying domestic partnership are liable to receive spousal support.

However, the only way for the requestor to activate these payments is to bring forth a case in court. While at it, they’ll have to ascertain that they’re no longer able to maintain the same living standards without the support that they had before the marriage ended.

Also worth noting is that if you were married for a year or two, the court will likely reject your request to receive spousal support. Spousal maintenance is more common in marriages and domestic partnerships above 5 years.

Method and Frequency of Support Payments

In Washington, judges have full discretion over the when and how of making spousal support payments. That said, it’s common for a judge to order periodic payments—which are typically bi-weekly or monthly.

In cases where the paying spouse hardly receives regular paychecks or is otherwise self-employed, the court may order lump-sum payments. These payments can be made several times over a short period of time or once in a long period.

Modifying a Spousal Support Order in Seattle, WA

Only under specific conditions can a Washington court agree to modify an original spousal support order. 

Either spouse can request a modification of a spousal maintenance order. However, for their request to be approved, they’ll have to demonstrate, beyond reasonable doubt, that there has been a “substantial change of circumstances.” If, for example, the paying spouse has contracted a debilitating disease, the court will likely review the case and make the applicable adjustments to the initial order.

Maintenance payments are only terminated if the alimony order has a termination date, the recipient remarries, or they die.

Seattle Spousal Support Lawyers You Can Count On

Spousal maintenance is understandably a point of contention among those facing a divorce in Seattle, WA. If you and your spouse are having difficulty arriving at an agreement on the amount and frequency of payments, the Seattle family law attorneys Petrelli Previtera can help. Our seasoned, award-winning Seattle alimony attorneys are here to provide you with reliable legal counsel, help ensure your rights are adequately protected, and assist you in attaining the outcome you deserve.


Contact our legal team today at 866-465-5395 to schedule an initial consultation.