What You Need to Know About Spousal Support in a Virginia Divorce

By: John Whitbeck

[7.10.2020] Spousal support is what you probably know of as alimony. It is the amount of money one spouse is ordered to pay to their ex who is the more financially dependent spouse. It is not a random number that the judge comes up with. Virginia family court judges look at several important factors before deciding on an amount. Of course, it is always beneficial if you and your ex can reach your own agreement on an amount the recipient will receive. If you cannot, this is one of the issues the judge will determine before your divorce in Virginia will be finalized.

Retaining an experienced Virginia spousal support attorney is highly recommended if you are going through a Virginia divorce. Your attorney will guide you through the process and make sure your rights are protected, including fighting for the full amount of spousal support you may be entitled to.

Types of Spousal Support

Many people assume spousal support is just a monthly payment made for the rest of the recipient’s life. This is not how spousal support typically works. There are several different types of spousal support that can be awarded depending on the situation. These include:

Periodic Payments: Periodic payments can be for a defined or undefined period. Periodic payments for a defined period are payments made for a set time only. There is an end date, and this type of support is often called “rehabilitative spousal support.” Periodic payments for an undefined period are made at a designated interval, usually monthly. The total amount of support is unknown since there is no set duration.

There are certain events that could cause the payments to be terminated. These events can also affect the defined duration of payment as well — such as if either spouse dies, or if the recipient spouse remarries or cohabits in a relationship comparable to a marriage for a year or more.

Lump-Sum: A lump sum payment is one payment to be made at a set time and for a fixed amount. There may be an option to pay it in installments as well.

Temporary Spousal Support: The court may award support while the divorce is still pending. This is temporary and is designed to help maintain the recipient’s spouse during the divorce process itself.

Factors the Court Uses to Award Spousal Support

While formulas are sometimes used to determine temporary support, there are no guidelines binding on a court in making a final support order.  But there are some factors they look at. A few of these are:

  • Standard of living established during the marriage
  • How long the marriage lasted
  • Financial resources, obligations, and needs of each party
  • Monetary and nonmonetary contributions to the marriage
  • Age and mental and physical condition of each spouse

Situations Where Support is Not Awarded in a Virginia Divorce

There are some situations where spousal support will not be awarded in a Virginia divorce. Adultery can bar a spousal support award except in the case where special findings apply, like if failing to award spousal support would ‘constitute a manifest injustice,’ based on each spouse’s respective amounts of fault during the course of the marriage and the financial circumstances of each side.

Contact a Virginia Spousal Support Attorney Today

If you need assistance with a Virginia divorce or are fighting for your right to spousal support, contact WhitbeckBennett by calling 800-516-3964 or email clientservices@wblaws.com to learn how our team can help.

WhitbeckBennett provides social-distancing in-person consultations, private consultations by video conference at our office, or telephone/video consultations anywhere you may be located. We also currently offer a Virtual Consultation Room.

Related: Divorce; Child and Spousal Support;