Confused About Virginia Family Law? You're Not Alone. Read Our Most Frequently Asked Questions

Dealing with divorce comes with a lot of questions. You may feel very alone, but we hear several of your questions more often than you may think. Browse our FAQs—we think you'll find a lot of helpful answers!

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  • What is alimony, and how is it determined in Virginia?

                Alimony is an amount of money, either paid in a lump sum or over the course of a certain amount of time, that one spouse gives to the other following a divorce. In Virginia, the amount and payment schedule are settled between the spouses, and if that cannot be decided between the two, a judge will make the final determination. There are many factors that go into establishing alimony, including the following:

    • how long the couple had been married
    • net worth of each spouse
    • earning potential of each spouse
    • spouse or family health issues (age-related, physical, or mental impairments)
    • living standards set over the course of the marriage
    • one spouse’s contribution to the other’s attainment of a career or an education

              Permanent alimony—payments granted until the death of one spouse—used to be the most common form of alimony, but as job and educational opportunities between the sexes have become more equalized, that trend has changed. While it is still an option in Virginia, permanent alimony is being eliminated in several states undergoing law reform. Now, a common type of  alimony that is granted is called rehabilitative alimony. This form still involves the above-mentioned factors, but only lasts until the spouse receiving support has enough to become employed and financially independent.

              With offices in Richmond and Williamsburg, Virginia, our firm is ready to take your call about any family law issues you may be facing, including divorce, custody and support matters. You are also welcome to request a free copy of Smith Strong PLC Founder H. Van Smith’s latest book, The Ultimate Guide to Divorce & Custody in Virginia: Quickly Get Back to Fully Living Your Life.

              Have all of your alimony questions answered. Call 804-325-1245 or 757-941-4298 to schedule a SMARTSTART comprehensive case preparation meeting with one of our Commonwealth of Virginia family law attorneys.

  • Can I request to stay on my husband's employer-sponsored health insurance plan as part of our spousal support agreement?

    Unfortunately, no. This can be a stipulation in a child custody or child support agreement following a divorce, but as for spousal support, your ex-husband does not have to keep you on his health insurance.

    There is a silver lining, however. Once your divorce is finalized, there is a chance you could be eligible for benefits under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act—also known as COBRA—if your spouse works for a company with 20 or more employees. This means that you can get continuation coverage for up to 36 months (three years) following your divorce. You can expect to be charged for this coverage, but the employer cannot charge you more than 102 percent of the premium for its employees. Note, however, that amount is 102 percent of the whole premium, even if your ex-husband pays only part of that premium by paycheck deduction.

    If you do decide to take the temporary COBRA coverage, you will need to accept it within 60 days of your divorce being final. If you do not accept the health insurance during that time, you are forfeiting the opportunity.

    Something else to consider before accepting COBRA coverage is if you face a serious illness or injury during that temporary coverage period, you may have trouble finding good health insurance once it expires because of your pre-existing condition or past health history. If you are in relatively good health when your divorce is finalized, you may want to look for your own health insurance just to be safe and covered. Keep in mind that you can accept COBRA insurance and then drop it at any time during those 36 months.