Spousal support or spousal maintenance can be awarded as a component of a dissolution, legal separation, or annulment of a marriage. Support can also be awarded in certain circumstances involving the termination of a domestic partnership.
A common misconception is that there is a “formula” or “rule of thumb” that dictates the amount or duration of a support award. Even though there is no set standard, an experienced, skilled attorney can usually provide a reasonably accurate range of possible outcomes based on a couple’s unique set of circumstances.
Oregon has formally categorized spousal support to achieve one or more distinct purposes, although many of the factors support more than one type of support:
- “Transitional” spousal support is usually awarded to allow a party a reasonable period of time to update their education or work skills and / or re-enter the workforce after a long absence.
- “Maintenance” spousal support is awarded quite simply to allow a party to maintain a standard of living when there is an inability to be wholly self-sufficient. Most of the time, there is also a sizeable disparity between the parties’ respective earning potential (i.e., one party has the economic means to provide assistance to the other party in need).
- “Compensatory” spousal support may be awarded in limited circumstances when a spouse has made a significant financial or other contribution to the other spouse’s education or career.
While Washington law does not include the same kind of specific factors for spousal maintenance, the courts in that state will consider very similar evidence and may cater its support award to achieve certain goals or purposes as well.