Case Study

In Williams v. Sykes-Williams, the parties were married for nine years and had four marital children during this time. The husband had an affair, and his paramour’s family gifted him over $50,000 for his legal fees. In court, the wife requested spousal and child support from the husband, and the judge included the paramour’s family gift as a part of the husband’s gross income. The husband’s inflated income amount was then used to calculate his support obligation to his former spouse and children, which was larger than what would have been his support obligation had the $50,000 gift not been included. Under Virginia law, a judge is allowed to consider “all evidence presented relevant to any issues” and, when a spouse’s gross income is being calculated for support payments, the court is allowed to consider any “gifts, prizes, or awards.”


In this case, the $50,000 gift was given to the husband using electronic banking tools, which was counted as income. A prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can limit your exposure to spousal support payments, potentially allowing you to receive gifts without impacting payments to a divorcing spouse.

If you would like assistance in navigating spousal or child support obligations, please call one of our offices at 804-325-1245 (Richmond) or 757- 941 4298 (Williamsburg) to discuss your options.


Special Thanks to Brayden Meadows for his assistance with this article.

H. Van Smith
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Trusted Virginia Attorney Serving Richmond to Williamsburg