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How a high-asset divorce might impact spousal maintenance

On Behalf of | May 4, 2021 | Divorce

Whether a Seattle resident with significant assets accrued their fortunate life by building a business, through inheritance, by winning the lottery or in some other way, there is no doubt that a high-asset divorce can be worrisome. These cases can take a significant amount of time to sort through with both parties seeking a large portion of their financial portfolios. Real estate, stocks, retirement accounts, boats, automobiles, high-end collectibles – all can be at stake in a high-asset divorce. Of course, some are willing to negotiate to avoid a drawn out legal case, but with major financial implications, that could be a challenge.

How spousal maintenance is determined in Washington State

One of the most complex concerns in these cases is spousal maintenance. Understanding the basics of state law is important, but it must be gauged in the context of the financial situation. According to state law, spousal support can be ordered in a divorce and the length of time for which it is paid will be based on what the court believes to be fair, so there is no set duration. The marriage itself and the financial situation will play a large role in this decision. Since this is a high-asset divorce, the financial resources are crucial in the determination. Even people who are of means will have a limit on what the can and are willing to pay. The receiving spouse might want a higher amount. The standard of living during the marriage will be assessed and the receiving spouse may get to maintain the lifestyle.

The length of the marriage is considered. For a shorter-term marriage, there might be less of a window of maintenance paid. If the couple was together for an extended period and the receiving spouse contributed to the wealth accumulation of the paying spouse, this can raise the amount to be paid. The receiving spouse is expected to try and meet his or her needs by gaining employment or becoming educated and trained to do so. With high-asset cases, that might be difficult, impacting the award. Property accrued during the marriage and who will receive what as part of the divorce settlement is also weighed when the spousal maintenance award is made.

Spousal maintenance can be complicated and legal guidance is key

Regardless of the perspective, having experienced assistance in a high-asset divorce can make a major difference in the outcome. Because people with substantial means will try to protect their property and future as much as possible, spousal maintenance tends to be complicated. That does not necessarily mean there is no room for flexibility. Perhaps the sides are relatively amicable even if they are getting a divorce. In such a circumstance, a fair compromise can be reached. If it is acrimonious, it will be harder to achieve a settlement and a trial might be required. Consulting with legal professionals who are experienced in all areas of family law and helping those with major assets can be beneficial.