Spousal support is generally awarded in Virginia when there is a large difference between the earnings of one spouse and the other. Two of the biggest considerations when awarding spousal support in Virginia are the financial need of the party asking for support and the ability of the person paying to supplement the income of the requesting spouse to meet their needs.

Making this determination can sometimes be complex, and lead to disagreements between the two parties. To properly sort such agreements, it is critical that an individual consults with a Virginia alimony lawyer as soon as possible.

Unique Aspects of Alimony

Child support is separate from spousal support, and it is very important for people to understand that.  Spousal support can be a regularly occurring payment, a lump sum payment, and payment of certain expenses on behalf of a financially needy spouse.

Typically, spousal support is an amount of money taken on a monthly basis, either all at one time during the month or in a couple of installments during the month. However, it is also possible to award a lump sum of spousal support, meaning one large payment. Additionally, certain payments made on behalf of the payee spouse can be considered spousal support, such as payments of mortgage on the home where the payee spouse lives.

Length of Support

The amount of time that an individual will be awarded spousal support in Virginia is entirely up to the court. Spousal support payments can be a finite duration, like a year or two or sometimes seven or eight years. The court also has the ability to award a spousal support amount for an undefined duration, which means the court is not setting a date on which it will terminate.

If the payor spouse wants to stop paying at some point, they need to go to the court and explain to the court why spousal support payment being reduced or stopped is appropriate given the circumstances at that time.

Eligibility Requirements

Typically, to be eligible for spousal support payments in Virginia, the individual must earn a lot less money than their spouse, not have a job at all, or be employed but still require spousal support to meet living expenses. That can change later down the road upon certain events occurring, specifically the death of the payor, the death of the payee, the remarriage of the payee, or if the payee is living with another person in a relationship that is similar to marriage for a period of one year. Then, spousal support would end.

Potential Problems

One potential issue with spousal support is that the cost of a spouse or contested spouse in support can become very great. Additionally, if the parties are unable to resolve the issue between themselves and instead have to go to a judge to decide, there can be a great deal of unpredictability to the spousal support award specifically, because there is no formula that the court is required to use in deciding a permanent spousal support award.

If the parties engaged in litigation over spousal support do not resolve the case themselves, they take a big risk in submitting that matter to the court, because the possibilities of the court’s ruling are wide and varied. The starting point for courts to evaluate spousal support is the ability of the payor to make payments and the financial need of the person requesting spousal support.

Gathering Evidence

An attorney is going to present evidence of both party’s earnings and may also include evidence regarding one or both party’s ability to earn a different amount from what they are currently earning as a basis for spousal support awards in Virginia. Attorneys will also present evidence of the expenses that each party incurred on a monthly basis and compare those numbers to the amount of financial resources that each party has.