Awards of maintenance are made from one spouse to the other. The word "alimony" is not used in Washington State. These awards are based on the needs of one spouse and ability to pay of the other spouse. The dollar amount and duration of the maintenance depends on the facts of each individual case. Generally, the longer the marriage, the larger the potential for a greater duration of maintenance. Again, as the court considers what is fair, many factors could be taken into consideration. A few common examples are as follows: One spouse has spent a considerable amount of time as a homemaker and has not concentrated on a career. Maintenance could be awarded under these circumstances to help the non-working spouse get back on his or her feet by helping to pay bills and maybe attend school.
A reasonable way to work out needs and ability to pay is by using the Monthly Expenses Worksheet. Fill it in based on your situation after you split from your spouse. If children are an issue, you may be receiving or paying child support. Provide a calculation of child support for yourself. For this, see Child Support.
The person who will be paying child support needs to add this to the list of expenses to see whether that person will make ends meet. The person who will be receiving child support should deduct the amount of child support from expenses. (Child support covers some children and general household expenses.) The balance will have to be made up through work and/or spousal maintenance (If the other spouse is able to pay it).