Spousal support, also called alimony, is given to a spouse so that they can maintain their standard of living. Child support can also be awarded to a parent so that a child can maintain their standard of living as well. A standard of living refers to the general lifestyle that either the spouse or child was accustomed to before a divorce. Spousal and child support do not always have to be awarded to the same spouse, but often they are both awarded to the lower-earning spouse. 

Case Study: First Generation Americans & Support 

Indian-American Divorce on the Rise in Virginia

    15% of Smith Strong cases are first-generation immigrants or immigrants who married abroad and then terminated their marriage after moving to the United States, most commonly from India.

     Regardless of whether you immigrated to the United States, or if you simply need spousal or child support, it takes a team of detail-oriented attorneys to achieve the desired result. Even if you are the lower-earning spouse, do not assume you will get spousal support automatically, as this is not always the case.

     In Kaur v. Dhillion, a couple married in India immigrated to Virginia, produced children, and then divorced a few years later. At the time of the divorce, the wife primarily took care of the kids, was currently unemployed, and had a work history of primarily minimum-wage jobs. The wife attempted to explain that she was unemployed because she could not afford childcare and did not have anyone in the area who could watch her kids during the day,  but the court determined that the wife was unemployed by her own choosing, so she received no spousal support or child support as a result.


     As confirmed in Kaur v. Dhillion, the court looks at all the evidence, hears arguments from both sides, and then decides if one or none of the spouses will get financial support from the other. Having an expert help argue your case can mean the difference between receiving the support you need or nothing at all, even if you are the lower-earning spouse.

     The attorneys at Smith Strong, PLC generally counsel their clients to expect anywhere from 24% to 29% of the higher-earning spouses’ pre-tax income in court, or even more in settlement. If you want to ensure a court awards you the spousal or child support you need, please call one of our offices at 804-325-1245 (Richmond) or 757-941-4298 (Williamsburg) to discuss your options.

We also provide a free online Virginia Child Support Calculator used by over 10,000 people every month.


Special thanks to law clerk Brayden Meadows for his editorial and drafting assistance with this article.

H. Van Smith
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Trusted Virginia Attorney Serving Richmond to Williamsburg