Spousal Support

Spousal support is the Virginia term for alimony. Virginia courts have the authority to order one party to pay spousal support to the other while the divorce case is pending and/or after the divorce has been finalized. Additionally, the court has the authority to order a one-time payment of spousal support or monthly payments. These monthly support payments may be structured to end on a specified date after the divorce or they may be ordered to continue until one party dies or the receiving party remarries. In short, Virginia courts have reserved a broad authority to determine both the amount and duration of spousal support.

Although marriage is a pre-condition to receiving spousal support, having officially filed for divorce is not. Virginia law allows suits for separate maintenance to be filed by parties who have separated but have not yet formally begun the divorce process within the appropriate court.

For purposes of determining temporary support, the two fundamental factors considered by the court are a payor spouse's ability to pay and a payee spouse's financial needs. When setting the final amount of support upon the entry of a divorce order however, Virginia courts consider a number of statutory factors, including, but not limited to the following:

  1. the duration of the marriage;
  2. the age and physical and mental condition of the parties and any special circumstances of the family;
  3. the extent to which age, physical or mental condition or special circumstances of any child make it infeasible for a party to work outside of the home;
  4. the equitable distribution of property;
  5. the monetary and nonmonetary contributions of each party to the well-being of the family;
  6. the feasibility of and the time and costs required for one party to acquire the appropriate education, training, and employment to obtain the skills needed to enhance his or her earning ability;
  7. parenting decisions made and agreed upon during the marriage;
  8. the extent to which one party has contributed to the attainment of education, training, career position, or profession of the other party;
  9. the incomes and expenses of each party, and;
  10. the factors which led to the breakdown of the marriage. Moreover, a spouse can be denied the receipt of spousal support based upon specific fault-based grounds of divorce including adultery.

The following are some common legal and factual issues related to spousal support:

- How does a court compute spousal support?
- Can parties waive spousal support in a settlement agreement?
- Is spousal support considered when determining child support?
- Is support paid to a former spouse considered when determining current spousal support?
- Can a stay-at-home parent be required to return to the workforce?
- Does marital fault affect spousal support?
- Can parties voluntarily agree to change court-ordered spousal support? - If a payee spouse begins living with a boyfriend or girlfriend, does that terminate the payor spouse's obligation to pay spousal support?

To view statutory law relevant to spousal support, follow this link to Code Sections

To view case law relevant to spousal support, follow this link to Case Finder

To obtain legal advice concerning spousal support or other family law issues, please contact Raynor & Farmer, P.C.