Are You Entitled to Spousal Support in Virginia?

If you’re getting a divorce in Virginia and your ex was the primary breadwinner in the marriage, you might understandably be wondering whether spousal support (otherwise known as alimony) is something you can count on. Unfortunately, no. Nothing in Virginia state law says any divorcing spouse is entitled to spousal support.

Spousal support is provided on a case-by-case basis. Whether or not you receive spousal support following a divorce will be determined by several factors. It is ultimately up to the judge’s discretion.

How Long Does Someone Have to Be Married to Get Spousal Support?

One of the most common questions about qualifying for spousal support is whether the duration of the marriage plays a vital role in determining alimony. There is a belief that the longer a couple was married, the more likely that spousal support will be awarded to one of the ex-spouses following their divorce. This is true if you’re talking about how much support to award.

However, Virginia law states that the length of marriage should be considered as only one of many factors in determining whether and how much spousal support to award. The union could have lasted multiple decades or a year, but there are many other factors that may have a much bigger effect in deciding alimony.

What is the Pendente Lite Spousal Support Calculation?

Spousal support is often negotiated based on the ‘pendente lite spousal support calculation’ formula. The formula applies at the pendente lite stage, which often occurs early in the proceedings and is not binding on a final ruling that would occur at the end of the case. This pendente lite formula is sometimes used as a formula to help calculate how much spousal support should be awarded if the court deems support to be necessary as a final ruling.

What Factors Determine Spousal Support or Alimony?

Various factors help determine whether spousal support is necessary and how much support may be awarded. These factors are largely related to finances, the existence of children, and health.

Factors that may determine spousal support in Virginia include but are not limited to:

  • Factors which contributed to the dissolution of the marriage.
  • Age differences between the two parties.
  • Assets owned by either party.
  • Debts owed by one or both parties.
  • Decisions made during the marriage or at the beginning of divorce proceedings that affected the two parties financially.
  • Earning capacity and skills of either party.
  • Employment and employment opportunities for either party.
  • How much one party contributed financially to the education or career of the other party.
  • How the marital property has been divided in the divorce.
  • Legal provisions regarding shared marital property.
  • Financial needs and obligations of each party.
  • Nonmonetary contributions one party made to the family unit.
  • Opportunity and need for continued education for either party.
  • Real estate property owned by each party.
  • Retirement plans and pensions.
  • Standards of living during the marriage.
  • Tax consequences.
  • The ability of an ex-spouse to pay the alimony.
  • The duration of the marriage.
  • The financial resources and earning capacity of each party.
  • The grounds for divorce.
  • The physical and mental condition of each party.
  • Which party retains primary custody of their children.

What Are the Different Types of Alimony?

There are several types of alimony in Virginia. The type of alimony that a judge may award an ex-partner may depend on the financial circumstances of either party, the length of the divorce, and other factors.

The main types of spousal support are:

  • Fixed alimony is a type of spousal support that the court orders based upon a written agreement of the parties. It cannot be modified by either party once the agreement is accepted and ordered by the court.
  • Court ordered permanent alimony, not based upon a written agreement, lasts until the spouse remarries or one of the two parties dies. This is usually awarded only following long-term marriages.
  • Rehabilitative alimony is usually awarded for only a short period, generally ending once the ex-spouse finds new employment or relocates to a new living situation.
  • Temporary alimony may be awarded during divorce proceedings at the pendente lite hearing to help one of the two spouses meet a certain standard of living. Sometimes temporary alimony gives way to either permanent or rehabilitative alimony once the divorce is complete.

What Might Cause the Termination of Spousal Support?

Certain events may result in a previously agreed upon alimony payment plan being terminated in accordance with state laws.

Events that may end a spousal support agreement include:

  • Death of either ex-spouse.
  • Major financial change in circumstances for either party.
  • Remarriage of the spouse receiving payments.

Contact the Law Office of Seth C. Weston to Schedule a Confidential Consultation

The Law Office of Seth C. Weston has over fifteen years of legal experience in the practice areas of family law. We proudly serve individuals and their families in and around Roanoke, Virginia, and we would be honored to offer those legal services to you as well.

At our law firm, we pride ourselves on providing compassionate, aggressive legal representation to our clients because that’s the sort of legal care they deserve. We offer our knowledge as guidance, but we won’t follow through on any legal decisions without your okay. It is important to us that you fully understand your legal case while we go through the process of pursuing spousal support from your ex-spouse.

If you have any questions or concerns before proceeding, please feel free to contact us at any time to schedule a confidential, in-depth case evaluation. You may reach us at (540) 384-4585.