During the divorce process, you may have agreed to pay spousal support as part of your marital settlement agreement. Unfortunately, Virginia doesn’t offer a statement formula for determining the amount or duration of support. The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers recommends this guideline: “the duration of the award is arrived at by multiplying the length of the marriage by the following factors: 0-3 years (.3); 3-10 years (.5); 10-20 years (.75); over 20 years permanent alimony.” While this guideline is helpful during the negotiation process, the final determination truly depends on the circumstances of your marriage and the judgment of the court. If the court awarded spousal support to your ex, they may have formulated the amount based on Virginia Code § 20-107.1.
This answer may depend on the type of spousal support ordered by the court:
- Rehabilitative spousal support only lasts for a specific length of time. These support payments can give your spouse time to find a better-paying job or pursue beneficial educational opportunities. It can also be awarded if your ex is waiting to rejoin the workforce because they are dedicated to raising your children full-time. In certain cases, your ex may have needed to explain their plan to the court to receive rehabilitative spousal support.
- Permanent spousal support continues indefinitely and only ends if the receiving spouse remarries, cohabitates with a romantic partner, or passes away.
While the idea behind spousal support is sound, the reality is very challenging for paying parties. Some exes even need to rely on their new spouses to make their monthly payments. You can probably imagine how that conversation went! In other circumstances, exes simply aren’t prepared to pay spousal support. For example, even if your former spouse initially agreed to waive spousal support, they may request a modification if their financial situation changes or they face a medical emergency.
The amount of time you need to pay spousal support depends on the circumstances of your marriage and the terms set by your marital settlement agreement. Of course, the court understands that providing spousal support each month isn’t easy. In fact, you may need to modify or terminate your order if your personal or financial circumstances significantly change. After all, you can’t reasonably be expected to pay financial support to your ex if you lose your job. This doesn’t, however, mean that you can just stop providing payments. If you need to change the duration or amount of your spousal support order, you need to contact an attorney to discuss your legal options.
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Contact The Law Offices of Daniel J. Miller if you have questions or concerns about your spousal support order or marital settlement agreement. Our lawyer has a comprehensive understanding or divorce and family law. During your consultation, we can assess your case and thoroughly explain your legal options.