Temporary spousal support is typically determined based on a percentage of the income of the higher earning spouse. Permanent spousal support, support that may be ordered at the time the divorce and thereafter, is determined based on a number of factors that are set out by the Virginia legislature that the court is required to consider.

These factors are designed to assess the higher earning spouse’s ability to pay and the lower earning spouse’s financial need. To determine the specific factors of your spousal support case in Virginia, it is crucial that you consult with a Virginia alimony attorney as soon as possible.

Determining Factors

There are a number of factors that go into determining spousal support in Virginia. Some examples of those factors are the mental and physical health of the parties, the decisions that may have been made during the marriage regarding employment of one of the spouses, the duration of the marriage, and the standard of living established during the marriage.

It is possible for a court to deny a party requesting spousal support if that person has engaged in adultery. Adultery in Virginia can be an absolute bar to a person receiving spousal support.

Earning Capacity

In a spousal support case, it is often the court’s expectation that parties are working to their financial capacity. Many times, expert witnesses will be called to testify in a case where somebody is alleging that the other party is underemployed when they have the ability to earn more. In those cases, the court will consider the testimony of an expert witness who might have the expertise and knowledge to be able to say that a person who is not earning much money has the background skills or education to acquire a job that pays more.

The court expects people to be working at their capacity. For example, if a person had a wife who was working a job where she was paid an hourly wage and perhaps earning $20,000 a year, but she has a medical degree , the court will look to that to say, “You may be earning $20,000 a year in this hourly job, but you have an education that enables you to earn more.” The court would have the ability to impute income to the wife, meaning treat her as if she were earning the salary she could earn as a physical therapist.

It is important for an individual to have the assistance of a lawyer when discussing the factors that can determine spousal support in Virginia, especially as it pertains to earning capacity.

Conditions of Support

If it is an agreement, the parties will determine the conditions of spousal support independently. If they are working cooperatively, the parties will have a good deal of freedom in how they want to structure a spousal support award. If there is no agreement, it will be up to the judge to decide based on the specific determining factors of the spousal support case in Virginia.

Recognition Fault

Recently, the Virginia legislature changed the spousal support statute to add a factor that had not been previously included. There are a number of factors the court is required to consider in deciding whether spousal awards should be made in Virginia and if so, how much.

Most recently, the Virginia legislature added a consideration to the factors that says the court is required to consider the circumstances and factors that contributed to the dissolution of the marriage, including any grounds for divorce. So far, lawyers have not seen how this legislative change will impact support awards, or to what extent they will have a role in the determining factors of spousal support in Virginia.