Ending a marriage can be sad for some people, but it can also be a bit scary when you’re not sure how you’re going to get by financially.
Many spouses have been living in a certain situation for so long, that changing the way money is handled can be tricky and confusing. Luckily, when divorce is on the table, judges try to make sure that both spouses will be able to live in the same relative comfort that they did when they were married.
What Is Spousal Support?
The basic concept is this: in many families, one spouse has the primary role of earning money for the household. The other spouse has offered non-monetary contributions, such as maintaining the household and raising children. Often this spouse will have sacrificed career or education plans, too. As part of a separation or divorce judgment, the wage-earner spouse may be ordered to give money on a regular basis to the other spouse; this is called spousal support or (after the divorce is final) alimony or maintenance.
In contrast to child support, there is not generally a definite end date for spousal support. It’s really up to the court, but couples that have been married for 20 years or more will usually have permanent spousal support—although the word “permanent” is used loosely, because the support obligation ends when one of the spouses dies. If you were married between 5 and 20 years, the judge will often say a spouse is entitled to receive support for half the length of the marriage. So, if a couple was married for 10 years, one of the spouses could receive support for five years. Marriages that lasted less than five years will often not be granted spousal support at all, unless there is a specific circumstance that warrants it for a short amount of time.
Determining Spousal Support Amounts in Virginia
If you are unable to come to a mutual agreement regarding spousal support, a judge will decide for you. When deciding on the amount, she will look at many different factors, including:
- The obligations, needs, and financial resources of both parties
- The standard of living established during the marriage
- The duration of the marriage
- The age, physical condition, and mental condition of the parties and any special circumstances of the family
- The extent to which the age, physical or mental condition or special circumstances of any child of the parties would make it appropriate that a party not seek employment outside the home
- The contributions (monetary and non-monetary) of each party to the wellbeing of the family
- The property interests of the parties, including real and personal property, and tangible and intangible property
- Each spouse’s earning capacity, including the skills, education and training of the parties and the present employment opportunities available
- The opportunity for, ability of, and the time and costs involved for a party to acquire the appropriate education, training, and employment to obtain the skills needed to enhance his or her earning ability
The courts just really want to see you and your spouse end up in situations that allow you both to begin new lives as single people.
Whether you’re just looking for legal assistance with Virginia spousal support, or you would like a lawyer to see you through your entire divorce, Smith Strong, PLC is ready to help. With offices in both Richmond and Williamsburg, we have helped countless individuals find comfort and peace after their divorce.
If you are seeking spousal support in Virginia, contact Smith Strong, PLC today at 804-325-1245 to schedule a SmartStart Comprehensive Case Preparation Meeting and to receive a copy of lead attorney Van Smith’s new book from the Legal Strength Series, The Ultimate Guide to Divorce and Custody in Virginia: Quickly Get Back to Fully Living Your Life. In this book, Van Smith provides expert advice on spousal support and divorce issues to keep in mind as you prepare your case for courts from Charlottesville to Richmond to Williamsburg, Virginia.
View our Spousal Support Article Library:
Modifying Spousal Support
- Factors Determining Spousal Support in Virginia
- Increase In Income Does Not Always Mean An Increase In Spousal Support
- Hiding Assets to Prevent Being Considered in the Calculation of Spousal Support
- Determining Spousal Support
- Lowering Spousal Support After Entry of a Virginia Divorce Decree
- Key Variables When Calculating Alimony
- Elements Involved in Alimony Negotiations
- Modification of Spousal Support: Modification When Written Agreement is Silent
Spousal Support and Behavior
- The Abuse Of Marital Funds In An Adulterous Affair
- Adultery as a Bar to Spousal Support
- How To Address a Spouse's Bad Behavior During Divorce
Other Forms of Support
- Life Insurance, Divorce, and Spousal Support in Virginia
- Social Security Spousal Benefits After Divorce
- Separate Maintenance: A Form of Spousal Support When Divorce is Not an Option
- Temporary Spousal Support is Available as You Finalize Your Divorce