Factors of Spousal Support
A court considers many factors when deciding whether it will award spousal support.
These factors include each spouse’s:
- income and financial needs;
- mental and physical conditions;
- standard of living established during the union;
- contribution to the other’s education, training, or earning power;
- contribution to maintaining the family home;
- contribution to child rearing; and/or
- property interests.
Virginia does not have a standardized formula for determining the duration and monetary value of spousal support. For example, Northern Virginia uses an order called ‘pendente lite’ while figuring out the details of spousal support.
Pendente lite is temporary (it lasts until the conclusion of the case) and is used in:
- annulment; and
- separation cases.
Upon conclusion of the case, the court may order more support, less support, or no support at all for the party seeking the award.
Duration of Spousal Support
Spousal support awards are generally established for 50% of the entire length of the marriage. For example, if a couple was married for 6 years, the party seeking support may only receive it for up to 3 years.
For spouses in marriages that ended after a substantial amount of time (20 years or more), the court may rule in favor of permanent support. However, since 2018, the court is required to look at retirement funds when considering permanent support.
Spousal support can end before the court-appointed timeframe. For instance, if either spouse dies during the duration of support, the responsibility will end immediately. The same is true if the receiving spouse remarries or begins a relationship where they are supported by their new partner.
Modifications of Spousal Support
There is an extremely high standard in place for spousal support modifications. If the paying spouse has any assets (stocks, savings, real property, etc.), the court may consider the paying spouse’s ability to pay intact. There must be a significant change in circumstance for a court to grant any modifications.
This change can be:
- the paying party reaching full retirement age;
- the receiving party remarrying; or
- either party encountering a substantial change in their ability to support themselves.
Skilled and Trustworthy Legal Representation
The laws surrounding spousal support are complex and strict in Virginia. At The Law Offices of Daniel J. Miller, our attorneys have the relevant experience to guide you through your court proceedings. Whether you are seeking or providing spousal support, we will do everything in our power to ensure your rights are upheld.