If you enter the divorce process, you might have many questions about spousal support attorneys and entitlements — what it is, who pays it, and who gets to make the final decisions about it.

In Virginia, family courts have the right to order one party in a divorce to pay the other spousal support for a specified period. This arrangement is typical when one spouse earns significantly more income than the other. And though these spousal support awards are no longer called “alimony” in Virginia, you can think of them as effectively the same thing.

Further, there is no presumption or automatic entitlement to receive spousal support for any party in Virginia. The judge decides each divorce case-by-case and only awards spousal support where necessary. The judge will consider factors such as:

  • The established standard of living during the marriage.
  • The length of the marriage.
  • Spousal earning potential.
  • The existence of marital misconduct.
  • The needs of one party versus the other party’s ability to pay.

Thankfully, there are spousal support attorneys whose jobs are to explain all options to you, work with your spouse’s attorney or another arbitrator, and expedite the process so that all parties can leave satisfied with the results.

Most importantly, spousal support attorneys aim to get you through this process without needing to go to trial at all if it can be helped. The divorcing spouses would then settle the terms for alimony or spousal support on their own.

Let’s have a look at the process so that you can better understand the role of your spousal support attorney.

Understanding the Role of a Divorce Lawyer

When a person realizes that a divorce is best for their future plans, they are likely to feel uncertain about what a divorce lawyer does, and as a result, they may delay contacting one. This delay could put them at a disadvantage from the beginning.

An attorney working in divorce or family law brings two parties together, even amid bitter disagreements, and settles the spousal support plans without going to trial when possible.

The spousal support attorney will help develop a payment plan that works and complete a separation agreement, often eliminating the need to go to trial. This agreement will also cover the division of marital property. Good family law attorneys can usually negotiate deals even when the spouses seem to be in complete disagreement.

When determining spousal support, there are four factors that the attorney must address in a way that both sides will agree on.

  • Which spouse, if either, will receive alimony.
  • How much alimony to award.
  • If and when this alimony will expire.
  • If and when this alimony can be modified.

In some circumstances, one of the divorcing spouses knows they will need immediate, temporary support, even as the divorce process begins. In this case, the divorce lawyer can file for pendente lite relief, which a judge can approve. Pendente lite is Latin for “pending the litigation,” It allows one spouse to begin receiving payments immediately.

Objectively speaking, it is often in all parties’ interest to resolve the marital separation agreement themselves without bringing in a third party. The family law attorney will work with the other side to come to agreements about settling.

Contact Us Today

Each divorce is different, and no two spousal support plans look exactly alike. Here at WhitbeckBennet, we have a team of qualified and experienced divorce attorneys ready to speak with you about your needs. Contact Whitbeck Bennett by calling 800-516-3964 or emailing clientservices@wblaws.com to schedule a consultation today.