If you’re going through a divorce, you may have concerns about Virginia spousal support. Perhaps your spouse has been the primary financial provider in your relationship, and you are not sure how you’ll make ends meet until the finalization of your divorce. Under Virginia law, courts have the authority to award spousal support and maintenance, also known as spousal support in the divorce process. When necessary, courts will award alimony for a period after the finalization of the divorce.
Meet with an Experienced Fairfax Spousal Support Lawyer
Whatever your concerns regarding Virginia spousal support, the lawyers at Surovell Isaacs & Levy PLC can help. David Levy helps protect the interests of our clients throughout the entire divorce process. Whether you are seeking spousal support or challenging it, we will fight hard for your rights during the divorce process. Contact our Virginia divorce attorneys today to schedule your initial consultation.
Understanding Virginia Spousal Support
Virginia spousal support is a series of monthly payments that one spouse or a former spouse makes to the other spouse. A court can require support payments when during the separation period, temporarily during the divorce process, or after the divorce order becomes finalized. The divorcing parties can voluntarily agree to a support arrangement.
A Virginia court also has the legal authority to require one spouse to pay the other spouse spousal support. The spousal support details are in an enforceable court order. Depending on the circumstances, support amounts can be modifiable or non-modifiable. The required spousal support payments can terminate on a specific date, or they can continue until a Virginia court modifies the agreement or agrees to change.
Permanent vs. Temporary
Courts will sometimes require one spouse to pay temporary spousal support until it enters the Final Order for Divorce. Temporary support can be beneficial for the spouse with a relatively lower income level. Awarding temporary support allows a spouse financial support while he or she transitions to life as a self-supporting and single individual.
If you are considering divorce, but you have financial concerns, seeking temporary spousal support could benefit you greatly. Receiving temporary spousal support can allow you to complete educational goals or job training, or give you a buffer while you engage in a job search for gainful employment. When couples have children, and one spouse has been a stay-at-home parent, courts are more likely to award that support, especially during the transition period.
Permanent support is support for an indefinite amount of time. Courts can modify the amount of permanent support when a material change in circumstances takes place for either the payer of the support or the recipient of the support. Courts consider how ready one spouse is to be financially self-sufficient and several other factors when determining whether to award permanent or temporary support.
Factors the Court Considers
Unlike in the case of child support, judges do not use a formula when determining spousal support. Courts have broad discretion when it comes to awarding spousal support. When couples are concerned about a judge’s broad description, they may want to negotiate and agree to a settlement agreement that the judge can sign and enforce.
When divorcing spouses cannot arrive at a settlement agreement, the judge will decide on the issue of spousal support according to several factors. When determining the type, duration, and amount of support, judges will consider the following factors:
- Each spouse’s needs, financial resources, and financial obligations
- Each spouse’s income including wages, investment income, pension, profit-sharing
- Each spouse’s earning capacity
- The length of the marriage
- Each spouse’s monetary and nonmonetary contributions to the family’s well-being
- The distribution of marital property during the divorce
- The tax consequences of support on both spouses
- Whether one spouse has contributed to the other’s training or career
- Whether the recipient spouse has the ability and opportunity to acquire job skills
- Each spouse’s property interests in personal and real property
- Special circumstances of a child making it difficult for one spouse to return to work
- The standard of living in the marriage
- Each spouse’s physical and mental condition as well as their age
- Any other factor that the court finds relevant.
Spousal Support and Adultery in Virginia
Virginia judges must consider whether a spouse committed any marital misconduct during the marriage, including adultery. When the spouse requesting support committed adultery during the marriage, the judge will deny awarding support. Nonetheless, a Virginia court can award support to a spouse who committed adultery if denying the support would create a financial hardship.
Virginia courts can order spouses to make periodic payments, such as once a month or bi-monthly payments. Courts can also order that one spouse transfer property to the recipient spouse to pay for spousal support. When the recipient spouse is concerned about non-payment, he or she can ask the court to issue an income deduction order. When granted, your spouse’s employer can deduct support amounts from their paychecks and give it to the spouse receiving support.
Modification of Support in Virginia
Did the judge in your case award your ex-spouse too much spousal support? You have the right to request a modification of support. To do so, you’ll need to prove to the court that you or your ex-spouse has experienced a material change in life circumstances. The material change in circumstances must be one that neither spouse anticipated when the Virginia court issued the original divorce order. Additionally, Virginia courts will review all support cases when either or both spouses reach retirement age to see if a modification is necessary.
Contact Our Skilled Fairfax County Family Law Attorney
At Surovell Isaacs & Levy PLC, our lawyers have extensive experience regarding all different types of spousal support issues. Contact our Virginia family law firm today to learn how we can help you fight for your best interests.