Do you have a right to request alimony in a gray divorce?

The longer your marriage has lasted, the more unnerving getting divorced might seem. Especially for someone who has been dependent on their spouse for much of their adult life, trying to end the relationship and move on may seem like an impossible task.

The closer you are to retirement age, the more difficult it will likely be for you to be able to become financially independent before you reach retirement. The longer you have been dependent on your spouse, the harder it will be for you to command the competitive wages in a job market that often places a lot of emphasis on experience and work history.

In certain circumstances, you may be able to request alimony or spousal support as part of your Washington divorce, which may make it easier for you to picture yourself living without your spouse in the future.

What factors influence the courts’ decision about alimony?

First of all, you should understand that you have to request alimony in order to receive it. The courts will not order it unless you ask them to. Second, you must understand that the amount and duration of the support will be based on what the courts believe will be fair for you and your ex given the circumstances of your marriage.

They will consider factors such as the length of your marriage, how long you were out of the job market, your non-financial contributions to your family, and your current and likely future earning potential. What they will not consider is any marital misconduct that may have prompted you to divorce your spouse. In other words, just because your partner cheated doesn’t necessarily mean that the courts will side with you when you request alimony.

Alimony and property division are often interrelated

When the courts order alimony, one of the things they will look at will be the ruling for the property division in your divorce proceedings. If you will already receive a significant portion of a pension or retirement account, the need for ongoing regular support from your spouse may be minimal. On the other hand, ordering spousal support can be one way to split certain kinds of pensions and retirement benefits that would be difficult for you and your ex to manage otherwise.

Looking carefully at your financial circumstances and your marital assets can give you a more realistic idea of what you can request and expect as you move forward with a divorce.