How is spousal support paid?
Spousal support may be paid in increments over time or in a lump sum.
Is spousal support automatic in a divorce?
No. Spousal support, or alimony, is not a given in a Virginia divorce. An attorney experienced in family law can give you a more definite answer about whether you are eligible for or will be required to pay alimony.
There are numerous considerations that guide the process of determining spousal support, and each case is unique. An initial barometer to gauge a situation is to look at the difference between one spouse’s ability to pay compared to the other’s need for sufficient income. For example, if one spouse has put his or her career on hold for the benefit of the family the wage earning spouse may be required to pay alimony.
A spouse may be denied support if it is proven that he or she has committed adultery.
Who makes the decision regarding support?
Alimony can be decided by the divorcing couple during mediation or collaboration, or decided by the court should litigation occur.
What factors contribute to determining the amount and duration spousal support?
According to the Code of Virginia (Title 20-107.1) the following will be considered when deciding the nature, amount, and duration of alimony:
- The obligations, needs and financial resources of the parties, including but not limited to income from all pension, profit sharing or retirement plans, of whatever nature.
- The standard of living established during the marriage.
- The duration of the marriage.
- The age and physical and mental condition of the parties and any special circumstances of the family.
- The extent to which the age, physical or mental condition or special circumstances of any child of the parties would make it appropriate that a party not seek employment outside of the home.
- The contributions of each party to the well-being of the family.
- The property interests of the parties--real and personal, tangible and intangible.
- The provisions made with regard to the marital property division.
- The earning capacity, including the skills, education and training of the parties and the present employment opportunities for persons possessing such earning capacity.
- The opportunity for, ability of, and the time and costs involved for a party to acquire the appropriate education, training and employment to obtain the skills needed to enhance his or her earning ability.
- The decisions regarding employment, career, economics, education and parenting arrangements made by the parties during the marriage and their effect on present and future earning potential, including the length of time one or both of the parties have been absent from the job market.
- The extent to which either party has contributed to the attainment of education, training, career position or profession of the other party.
- Such other factors, including the tax consequences to each party, as are necessary to consider the equities between the parties.
What is temporary support?
Temporary support is available prior to the finalization of a divorce. In Fairfax County, temporary support is determined by guidelines taking into account each party’s incomes. Some surrounding jurisdictions also use the Fairfax County guidelines.
How long is spousal support paid after a divorce?
One of the contributing factors in determining the duration of spousal support is the length of the marriage. In shorter marriages, support is commonly paid for a defined duration. In longer marriages alimony may be indefinite.
In any case, absent an agreement otherwise, spousal support ends when either spouse dies or the spouse receiving alimony remarries or is proven to have cohabited with another individual in a relationship analogous to marriage for one year or more.
Is spousal support taxable income?
Typically, yes. The spouse receiving alimony is required to declare the income on his or her taxes. The spouse paying support may deduct the amount from his or her income tax. However, the tax implications of support should be discussed with your attorney.