Support - Child and Spousal - § 4-3 (A)(1) - § 4-3 (A)(3)

(1) Generally

2020---Hyat v. Hina, Va. Ct. of Appeals, Unpublished, No. 1882-19-4
The circuit court did not err in awarding Wife spousal support, even though the parties’ marriage lasted only ten months. Wife’s H-1B visa had been terminated, rendering her unauthorized to work in the U.S., and she could not seek employment elsewhere without losing custody of the parties’ young son because Husband had obtained an injunction prohibiting her from taking the child out of the U.S.

2020---Chaudhry v. Chaudhry, Va. Ct. of Appeals, Unpublished, No. 0869-19-4
The trial court did not err in ordering spousal support to wife retroactive to the date of the commencement of the suit. Husband contended that the court abused its discretion because wife did not establish a need for support while the divorce was pending; however, the court found that wife had been out of the job market while raising the couple’s six children, she had a limited ability to obtain reasonable employment in the near term, her 2017 and 2018 tax returns did not accurately reflect her income, and she requested both pendente lite and permanent spousal support in her initial complaint for divorce. For these reasons, the court’s award of spousal support retroactive to the date of wife’s filing was proper.

2019---Wyatt v. Wyatt, Va. Ct. of Appeals Unpublished, No. 0291-19-2
After considering the statutory factors, wife’s need, and husband’s inability to pay, the trial court did not err in denying wife’s request for spousal support. Although husband had a gross monthly income of $9,721 compared to wife’s $1,348 in gross income, both parties’ monthly expenses exceeded their respective incomes. Moreover, Wife had intentionally reduced her work hours to be home when the children arrived home from school during the weeks she had custody, despite fact that husband paid for after-school care during both his and wife’s custody weeks.

2018---Collins v. Leeds, 69 Va. App. 1
The trial court did not err in refusing to include $311,000 in Wife’s separate legal expenses from malpractice suits in determining wife’s total monthly expenses for the purpose of calculating spousal support. Wife initiated the legal proceedings long after the parties were separated and was unsuccessful in each prosecution. Despite there not being an expert opining that the lawsuits were frivolous, the trial court was within its discretion to decide to exclude the legal expenses.

2015---Eskridge v. Eskridge, Va. Ct. of Appeals, Unpublished, No. 2321-14-2
The trial court did not err in awarding Wife spousal support despite the alleged lack of evidence regarding her need. Although Code of Virginia § 20-107.1(E)(1) requires the trial court to consider the parties’ obligations, needs and financial resources as a factor in determining spousal support, the statute does not require a specific mathematical formula demonstrating a spouse’s needs. Here, the court heard evidence of the parties’ incomes and that the pendente lite support paid by Husband was insufficient to maintain Wife in the standard of living to which she had grown accustomed during the marriage.

2015---Peake v. Peake, Va. Ct. of Appeals, Unpublished, No. 0262-15-3
The trial court did not abuse its discretion in awarding Wife spousal support in the amount of $9,000 per month for fifteen years. Where Wife had supported Husband during his lengthy medical education for eight of the nine years of the marriage, which endowed Husband with “formidable earning capacity,” and where further education enabling a gainful career path for Wife was likely to be expensive and time-consuming, the award was appropriate.

2014---Wroblewski v. Russell, 63 Va. App. 468
The trial court had the authority to order Husband to pay wife’s health insurance premiums for eighteen months after the entry of the final order of divorce, pursuant to Va. Code §20-108.1(c).

2014---Blalock v. Blalock, Va. Ct. of Appeals, Unpublished, No. 0895-14-4
The trial court did not err in refusing to terminate Husband’s spousal support obligation when it expressly based its ruling on evidence of each of the parties’ cost of living, Wife’s employment opportunities, and Husband’s change in employment and income. The determination of whether a spouse is entitled to a termination of spousal support is a matter within the trial court’s discretion. When determining spousal support, the trial court must consider the factors in Code of Virginia § 20-107.1(E). However, the trial court is not required to quantify or elaborate exactly what weight or consideration it has given to each of the statutory factors.

2014---Kim v. Lee, Va. Ct. of Appeals, Unpublished, No. 1485-13-1
Trial court did not err in awarding spousal support to Husband of $300 a month for three years where the Wife’s earning potential exceeded Husband’s and Husband’s monetary and non-monetary contributions to the marriage exceeded Wife’s. Though both parties worked full-time as ordained ministers, Husband earned $22,000 less per year, and Wife failed to present evidence that Husband was underemployed. Husband supported Wife and cared for the parties’ children while Wife pursued her education, but when Husband pursued his education, Wife did not support him.

2014---Byrd v. Byrd, Va. Ct. of Appeals, Unpublished, No. 0687-13-2
The trial court erred in awarding spousal support to Wife where she failed to introduce evidence to establish her financial need. The burden to prove all facts necessary for an award of spousal support rests with the party seeking spousal support. A party seeking spousal support must present at least some evidence to show the necessity of the award.

2013-- Patel v. Patel, 61 Va. App. 714
The circuit court did not err in considering undistributed proceeds from Husband’s interest in companies as income for purposes of determining spousal support.

2013---Starling v. Starling, Va. Ct. of Appeals, Unpublished, No. 0589-13-3
The trial court did not abuse its discretion in awarding $1,500 a month in permanent spousal support to wife. Wife testified that her standard of living had changed drastically since the parties separated. She explained that she went from living in the “nicest house in the neighborhood” to a “little, small trailer,” and that despite working full time she was now unable to meet all of her financial obligations. She explained that during the marriage she had ample money to purchase new clothes and go on vacation but during the separation she had to reduce her expenses substantially. During the 23-year marriage, Husband had been the primary financial provider where wife had been the primary caretaker of the home and child.

2013---Patterson v. Patterson, Va. Ct. of Appeals, Unpublished No. 0602-13-3
The trial court did not err in awarding Wife $2,150 per month in spousal support. Specifically, the court did not err in its calculation of Husband’s income, where evidence of income presented by Husband included overtime pay. The trial court also did not err in adjusting Husband’s expenses, including his charitable donations, gifts to his adult daughter, and excessive debt payments. The trial court did not err in failing to impute income to Wife where Husband presented no evidence of her earning capacity and Wife presented evidence that she was on permanent disability and unable to work.

2012---Wright v. Wright, Va. Ct. of Appeals, Unpublished, No. 0275-12-2
Where wife had become accustomed to giving monthly gifts and contributions to charity, these were reasonable expense items for the court to include in its award of spousal support.

2012---Vannatta v. Vannatta, Va. Ct. of Appeals, Unpublished, No. 0237-12-2
The trial court did not err in refusing to include certain existing debts of husband in its determination of husband’s ability to pay support, finding that husband’s choice to take on expenses such as purchases of undeveloped land, jewelry, and a tractor subsequent to the divorce were unreasonable given husband’s awareness that wife could petition for spousal support under the property settlement agreement.

2012---Mograbi v. Abdellatif, Va. Ct. of Appeals, Unpublished, No. 1518-11-4
The trial court erred in failing to make written findings and conclusions pertaining to Va. Code §20-107.1 when awarding wife spousal support. Though wife argued that the trial court did exhaustively review the equitable distribution factors of Va. Code §20-107.3, many of which are the very same factors as appear in §20-107.1, those same factors might be weighed differently with the other factors considered in making a spousal support award than they were in making an equitable distribution award. Moreover, §20-107.1(F) specifically requires that a spousal support order be accompanied by written findings and conclusions of the court identifying the factors in subsection E which support the court’s order.

2011---Coleman v. Coleman, Va. Ct. of Appeals, Unpublished, No. 0633-11-2
The trial court erred in ordering final spousal support to be determined by using the local pendente lite spousal support guidelines. Though the court properly considered the factors of §20-107.1 and recited its consideration of those factors on the record, it then directed the attorneys to simply “plug in” the income numbers into the local guidelines, then entered an order based on those guidelines. The trial court didn’t actually fix the amount of spousal support, and nothing in the record indicated that the trial court knew what amount of support it was actually awarding when it announced its decision.

2011---Pilati v. Pilati, 59 Va. App. 176
The trial court erred by failing to provide sufficient explanation for its decision regarding spousal support. Despite a number of factual disputes, including the cause of the breakdown of the marriage and the potential imputation of income to wife, the trial court’s letter opinion simply paraphrased the statutory factors and included only two factual findings – that the parties had been married for 22 years and had enjoyed a “high middle class” standard of living. Case remanded to trial court for sufficient explanation for award.

2011---Costanzo v. Costanzo, Va. Ct. of Appeals, Unpublished, No. 2357-10-2
Trial court erred in holding that wife failed to present evidence sufficient to demonstrate her need for spousal support, where wife presented a statement showing her current income and expenses, a statement showing husband’s income and expenses, and evidence regarding the lifestyle enjoyed by the parties during the marriage.

2010---Dunfee v. Dunfee, Va. Ct. of Appeals, Unpublished, No. 0870-10-4
The trial court did not err in ordering wife to pay husband spousal support, based on the following circumstances: (i) wife earned significantly more than husband during the marriage; (ii) wife forced husband from the marital residence by obtaining a protective order that ultimately led to his incarceration; (iii) wife refused to provide husband with any support or access to marital funds for the duration of the separation, causing husband to have to survive on family charity; and (iv) husband had recently spent a significant amount of time in rehabilitation to remedy his drinking problem.

2010---Buniva v. Buniva, Va. Ct. of Appeals, Unpublished, No. 1669-09-2
The party seeking spousal support has the burden of putting on evidence regarding any claimed tax consequences it seeks to have considered in the determination.

2010---Andrews v. Creacey, et. al., 56 VA. App. 606
Trial court did not err in refusing to award wife spousal support after a 64-year marriage where wife failed to produce evidence of her needs and expenses.

2010---Tucker v. Wilmoth-Tucker, Va. Ct. of Appeals, Unpublished, No. 2008-09-2
Trial court did not exceed its authority in ordering husband to pay wife $1,400 per month, in addition to spousal support, to assist wife in paying health insurance premiums. Although the trial court’s letter opinion, incorporated into the final decree, set forth the health insurance payments under the “Child and Spousal Support” section of the opinion, the final decree contained language stating that said payments “were not in the nature of spousal support, and shall not be taxable to wife nor deductible to husband for income tax purposes.” Husband argued that the final decree language necessarily meant that the insurance payments were not spousal support, and thus, the circuit court had no authority to order him to maintain health insurance for wife. The Court of Appeals held however, that, when viewed in conjunction with the language relating to the tax implications of the payments, it was evident that the phrase “not in the nature of spousal support” was technical language relating to the tax code and limited to an income tax context. Thus, said language did not directly contradict the initial determination contained in the court’s incorporated letter opinion that the payments were spousal support.

2010---Spreadbury v. Spreadbury, Va. Ct. of Appeals, Unpublished, No. 1053-09-4
Trial court did not err in refusing to award wife spousal support, despite fact that wife had filed for bankruptcy. Wife argued that her need for support was inherently demonstrated by the fact that she had filed for bankruptcy, and she therefore presented no other evidence of her need. Furthermore, the trial court noted that the parties were in their sixties, that husband’s health was declining, that both parties were awarded a substantial sum in equitable distribution, and that, although the standard of living was high during the marriage, it had declined just before the separation. Thus, the court did not err in refusing to award spousal support and instead reserving wife’s right to support upon a future showing of a change in circumstances.

2009---Robinson v. Robinson, 54 Va. App. 87
Trial court did not err in ordering Husband to pay $5,000 per month in spousal support, despite finding that Wife needed only an additional $3,871 per month to maintain the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage. Va. Code §20-107.1(E) authorizes the trial court to enter an award of spousal support in an amount greater than – or which otherwise results in the dependant spouse receiving income in an amount greater than – the economic marital standard of living. “The standard of living established during the marriage” is only one of thirteen factors to be considered.

2008---Harber v. Harber, Va. Ct. of Appeals, Unpublished, No. 0559-07-1
The trial court erred when it considered expenses that wife incurred on behalf of the parties’ two emancipated children when determining spousal support. Wife’s monthly rent and utility expenses, as well as other expenses, were inflated as a result of the two adult children living with her. Because husband no longer had a duty to provide support for the children, the trial court should not have considered the amounts by which wife’s living expenses were inflated as a result of her sharing a home with the two adult children.

2008---Rogers v. Rogers, 51 Va. App. 261
A court may not order a lump sum spousal support award to compensate a non-debtor spouse for the other spouse’s discharge of marital obligations in bankruptcy, as this would impermissibly intrude upon federal bankruptcy jurisdiction. However, where a material change in circumstances due to bankruptcy otherwise occurs, a court may modify a spousal support order.

Trial court erred in basing an award of spousal support to wife upon the presumption that Husband would receive a discharge of joint credit card debt in pending bankruptcy proceedings. The Court’s decree ordering husband to pay the credit card debt as part of its equitable distribution award was a valid, enforceable obligation that qualifies as “debt” for purposes of the bankruptcy statute prohibiting the discharge of certain debts. Therefore, the Court erred in speculating as to the future results of the pending bankruptcy proceeding in setting its spousal support award.

2008---West v. West, 53 Va. App. 125
Trial court did not err in refusing to award Wife an amount of spousal support sufficient to provide her with a lifestyle that had been inflated by the parties’ reliance on financial support provided by Husband’s parents during the marriage.

2008---McKee v. McKee, 52 Va. App. 482
Trial court did not err in considering Wife’s monthly mortgage expense on the marital home, which she received as part of the parties’ Property Settlement Agreement, for purposes of determining spousal support. The mere fact that a spouse’s housing expenses arise out of former marital property does not alter that spouse’s need for housing. Though a court is not required to include such expenses in its ultimate spousal support award, Va. Code §20-107.1 requires that a court consider a spouse’s reasonable housing related expenses when determining that spouse’s needs, obligations, and ability to pay spousal support.

2007---Robinson v. Robinson, 50 Va. App. 189
The failure of a trial court to make written findings supporting its decisions when awarding spousal support in contested cases constitutes reversible error. (See also Benzino v. Benzino, 52 Va. App. 256).

2007---Polemeni v. Polemeni, Va. Ct. of Appeals, Unpublished, No. 1682-06-1
Trial court did not err in denying Wife’s request for spousal support. Wife’s affair doomed the marriage. Wife had education and work experience that would enable her to find gainful employment. Wife was voluntarily under-employed. And Wife received a greater portion of marital assets.

2007---A.O.V. v. J.R.V., Va. Ct. of Appeals, Unpublished, No. 0219-06-4
Trial court did not abuse its discretion in the awarding of spousal and child support. The evidence showed that after the separation, Mother’s and Father’s monthly expenses were approximately the same. The record established that the trial judge considered, among other statutory factors, the evidence concerning the pre-separation standard of living and the Father’s ability to pay.

2007---Bolton v. Bolton, Va. Ct. of Appeals, Unpublished, No. 2723-06-4
Trial erred by failing to make the necessary written findings and conclusions to accompany its denial of spousal support as required by the spousal support statute.

2007---Brooker v. Brooker, Va. Ct. of Appeals, Unpublished, No. 2445-96-1
Trial court did not abuse its discretion in making spousal support award. Based on the evidence, the trial court found that Wife had a dire need for spousal support and Husband has an ability to pay it. In addition, evidence was presented that Wife is unable to resume employment at this time and that Husband’s conduct during the marriage contributed to Wife’s emotional and financial challenges and the dissolution of the marriage.

2007---Bullano v. Bullano, Va. Ct. of Appeals, Unpublished, No. 0577-06-2
Trial court did not err in awarding Wife permanent spousal support of $1,000 per month where court considered Wife’s financial needs, her age, her ability to earn, and the standard of living enjoyed by the parties during their marriage against Husband’s ability to pay, considering his ability to earn and his income.

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2007---Cote v. Cote, Va. Ct. of Appeals, Unpublished, No. 1008-06-4
Trial court did not err in awarding Wife $900 per month in spousal support where Wife did not have an adequate income to meet her monthly expenses and where the court considered other factors relevant under Va. Code §20-107.1(E); the duration of the marriage, the ages and physical and mental conditions of the parties, Wife’s significant monetary and non-monetary contributions during the marriage, and the decisions regarding employment made by the parties during the marriage.

2007---Tesfay v. Tesfay, Va. Ct. of Appeals, Unpublished, No. 1260-06-4
Trial court did not err in awarding Wife $400 per month for one year as spousal support. The court specifically noted the short duration of their marriage, its determination with respect to marital property and the significant sum each party would receive upon its sale, the respective debts of the parties, the health and ages of the parties, and the work potential of Husband as an airline mechanic and Wife as a nurse. The court further noted that there has been no testimony about the standard of living established during the marriage.

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