Last time, we began looking at the factors judges in Washington consider when determining whether a spouse is entitled to maintenance in divorce proceedings.
In addition to the financial resources available to the party seeking maintenance, judges also consider the time it would take the spouse to acquire the education or training necessary to obtain appropriate employment. A spouse who was married young and without obtaining significant education or training, and who remained out of the workforce during the marriage, will certainly require more time to become self-sufficient than one who has significant education/training and experience in his or her line of work.
Other important factors include: the standard of living established during the marriage; the length of the marriage; and the age, physical and emotional condition, and financial obligations of the spouse seeking maintenance. Each of these factors can impact, to one extent or another entitlement to maintenance, as well as amount and duration of maintenance.
Courts consider not only the situation of the spouse seeking maintenance, but also the situation of the other spouse. The ability of the spouse seeking maintenance to care for himself or herself while supplementing the needs of the spouse seeking maintenance is also considered. A spouse who has a low income and significant health problems, for example, cannot justly be required to pay a significant amount of maintenance to the other spouse.
Because decisions regarding spousal maintenance are heavily dependent on what the judge handling the case deems to be just, it is important to work with an experienced family law attorney to ensure one has zealous advocacy in court. An experienced attorney can help highlight for the court facts which lean in his or her favor and can help ensure accurate information is available for the judge to make the best possible decision.