Spousal Support in Virginia
In some cases a spouse’s requirement to provide support for another may continue after the marriage has ended. Spousal support, also known as alimony or maintenance, is not to be confused with child support or the division of assets. There are varying lengths of time one may pay or collect alimony depending on the circumstances surrounding each marriage and divorce.
A couple may decide to enter a spousal support agreement on their own or have one dictated by the court. In either case, the advice of an aggressive and knowledgeable attorney will be to your advantage.
When Can Alimony be Barred?
A person’s right to alimony can be cut off if it is proven that they committed adultery. However, there are many caveats to this, and proving adultery can often be very difficult. If you believe this may apply to your situation, you should consult an experienced Virginia Spousal Support Attorney.
Determining Spousal Support
There are no hard and fast guidelines for determining either the amount or duration of spousal support in the Commonwealth of Virginia following a divorce. The basic consideration for determining who pays, how much, and the duration of support is based one spouse’s financial need balanced against the other’s ability to pay. Fairfax County does use guidelines, similar to child support guidelines, to determine temporary support. That is to say, support paid by one spouse to the other after a divorce has been filed for, until the divorce is final. However, these guidelines are not supposed to be used to determine support post-divorce. Some other local jurisdictions also use these guidelines.
Factors Affecting Alimony Decisions in Virginia
A few of the many factors that go into a spousal support determination include:
- Age of the parties
- The duration of the marriage
- The present and future earning capacity of each party, (including their education, skills and work experience)
- The standard of living established during the marriage
- The supporting party’s ability to pay
- The parties’ respective contributions to the marriage
- Each spouses financial assets
- The needs of each party (including the minor children)
- Decisions made with regards to rearing the children that affected careers
- The tax consequences to both
Types of Virginia Alimony
There are several types of alimony that the court may award during the divorce process:
- Temporary alimony typically awarded when the parties are separated, but not divorced. It can continue after the divorce if completed under a different name.
- Rehabilitative alimony lasts for a specific length of time. It is awarded to the dependent spouse while they receive additional training to reenter the workforce, find another job, or relocate. It can also be awarded if there are young children in the family that would delay the dependent spouse’s entry into the workforce.
- Permanent alimony continues indefinitely, and is primarily in long-term marriages. Certain events can cause the permanent alimony to end such as death of the spouse paying alimony, death of the spouse receiving alimony, remarriage of the spouse receiving alimony, or long-term cohabitation with another individual in a relationship analogous to marriage.
Spousal Support Modifications
If spouses agree on spousal support and include that amount in their property settlement agreement, the amount of spousal support can only be changed if the agreement allows for later modification. If a judge, however, sets a support award, either side may later come back to court and request a change based on a material change in circumstances. In addition, the paying spouse may petition the court to terminate spousal support if the recipient spouse has lived with another person in a marriage-like relationship for a year or more.
Your spousal support agreement is a critical component of your divorce. In creating an agreement or changing an existing agreement, one should always consult the sound legal advice of an experienced spousal support attorney.
Meet with an Experienced Divorce Lawyer in Northern Virginia
Wherever your spousal support concerns lie, whatever stage of your divorce you are steeped in, our attorneys can help protect your interests and well-being. We invite you to discuss your spousal support issues with one of our capable Northern Virginia divorce attorneys. Contact us today at (571) 328-5020 or request a consultation.