Unless an agreement or the divorce decree provides otherwise, a Washington spousal maintenance obligation generally ends when the party receiving it remarries or registers a new domestic partnership or when either party dies. RCW 26.09.170(2). Generally, the court may only modify a maintenance order if there is a substantial change in circumstances. RCW 26.09.170(1). Washington law also allow a divorce decree to preclude or limit modification of a maintenance provision if the parties agreed to do so in the separation agreement. RCW 26.09.070(7). A court does not have the authority to modify such a provision.
In a recent unpublished case, an ex-husband appealed a court order terminating the spousal maintenance he received. The parties’ divorce decree in 2007 was based on a separation agreement that required the wife to pay the husband spousal maintenance. The agreement provided that the spousal maintenance would terminate when the husband remarried or died. It stated the spousal maintenance obligation was otherwise “non-modifiable” except in the case of the wife’s disability.
The wife sought to terminate the maintenance in 2019, alleging the husband had remarried. She claimed she had seen a news article indicating the husband was married to another woman.