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How Does Adultery Affect Divorce in Washington State?

Unfortunately, one of the most common reasons people file for divorce is adultery. When this occurs, a person may begin to experience powerful emotions such as anger, regret, shame, sadness, and suspicion. While these feelings are completely normal, it is important that persons who choose to file for divorce after their partner has committed adultery retain highly experienced legal representation.

Washington is a no-fault state, meaning that judges do not consider the reason for filing for divorce or whose “fault” it is, before permitting divorce. Instead, couples wishing to divorce only have to state that the marriage is irretrievably broken, meaning that there are no circumstances that can remedy or save the marriage. Once this has been stated, a judge will issue a divorce order.

Understanding Washington’s Alimony Awards
In Washington, alimony is called “spousal maintenance.” Spousal maintenance can be a monetary payment from one spouse to the other or payment of a bill or bills by one spouse for the other. The goal is to enable each spouse to live independently for a period of time the Court determines. The spouse that is required to pay is referred to as the “obligor,” while the spouse who receives the payment is referred to as the “obligee.”

However, because Washington is a no-fault state, there are no codes or formulas that determine the amount and duration of a spousal maintenance award. The Court will consider all relevant factors including but not limited to:

The financial resources of the party seeking maintenance, including separate or community property apportioned to him or her, and his or her ability to meet his or her needs independently, including the extent to which a provision for support of a child living with the party includes a sum for that party;
The time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find employment appropriate to his or her skill, interests, style of life, and other attendant circumstances;
The standard of living established during the marriage or domestic partnership;
The duration of the marriage or domestic partnership;
The age, physical and emotional condition, and financial obligations of the spouse or domestic partner seeking maintenance; and
The ability of the spouse or domestic partner from whom maintenance is sought to meet his or her needs and financial obligations while meeting those of the spouse or domestic partner seeking maintenance.

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