Spousal Support Factors: California and Washington


Jordan Miller


Faculty editor: Paul Horton
Publication: Contemporary Legal Issues
Volume: 22
Start Page: 128
Month: December
Year: 2015
Type: Article


Although both California and Washington are community-property states, they differ in the way they treat property division in divorce proceedings. California divorce courts lack discretion in dividing the spouses’ property; they generally must divide the spouses’ community property equally between them and must leave the spouses’ individual property alone. Washington, however, employs an equitable-distribution regime for property division on divorce; its divorce courts have discretion to divide the spouses’ community and separate property in a manner that “shall appear just and equitable after considering all relevant factors” including the nature and extent of the spouses’ community and separate property, the duration of the marriage, and the economic circumstances of the spouses “at the time the division of property is to become effective.”
These differences between California’s and Washington’s regimes for property division on divorce carry over into each state’s approach to spousal support awards, at least in the way the differences are expressed in the two states’ statutes. The differences of approach in the two states’ spousal-support statutes furnish the focus of this paper.