What To Know When Modifying Spousal Support

Spousal support – or alimony – is less common in Virginia divorces than it once was, but it can play an important role for spouses who are left without the financial ability to support themselves upon divorce. The State of Virginia recognizes that life’s circumstances sometimes change and that modifications of divorce terms, including spousal support, are sometimes necessary.

If you’re in a situation in which you believe a spousal support modification is in order – or if your ex-spouse is seeking a modification – it’s time to consult with an experienced Fairfax divorce attorney.

Specifications

In the State of Virginia, there are specific guidelines for when a party can request a spousal support modification. If there is sufficient reason for doing so, either spouse can request that the amount of spousal support is increased or decreased, that the duration be extended or abbreviated, or that the support is ended altogether – unless the original order specifically states that it is not modifiable.

The Basis for Modifications

Virginia courts can terminate spousal support for any of the following primary reasons:

 

  1. The recipient remarries – in which case, he or she is required by law to inform the payor
  2. Either party dies (unless stipulated otherwise)
  3. The recipient cohabitates with someone else in a relationship that is analogous to marriage for a year or more (unless stipulated otherwise or deemed unconscionable, which is rare)

 

Reasons the court may increase or decrease the amount of spousal support – or alter its duration – include:

 

  1. Either party – or both parties – experienced a change in circumstances that was not anticipated at the time the support was determined.
  2. An event that the court expected to happen, which would have changed one or both parties’ circumstances, failed to occur.

 

When the Matter of Modification Is Addressed in the Terms

When the original divorce terms themselves stipulate that spousal support modifications can’t be made, the court lacks the jurisdiction to modify the matter. If the divorce decree, however, does not address the matter of spousal support modifications (or stipulates when modifications can be addressed), the court has the authority to make modifications in accordance with whatever parameters are set forth (if any).

The Court’s Stance

When the court addresses the matter of spousal support modifications, it generally explores each party’s overall financial situation – in terms of their current incomes and their reasonable monthly expenses. Spousal support is intended to strike a balance between each spouse’s income in relation to his or her reasonable expenses, and if either ex’s financial circumstances – or both exes’ financial circumstances – have changed significantly, the court may determine that a spousal support modification is in order.

An Experienced Fairfax Divorce Lawyer Can Help

If you need a spousal support modification – or your ex is seeking one – the best divorce attorneys from Curran Moher Weis in Fairfax, Virginia, have an abundance of experience successfully guiding challenging cases like yours toward favorable resolutions that support our client’s best interests. We’re here for you, so please don’t hesitate to contact us online or call us at (571) 328-5020 for more information today.


 
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