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Spousal Support

Spousal Support in Virginia 

What is spousal support 

Spousal support or alimony is a payment from one spouse to the other during the pendency of the divorce and possibly after the Final Order of Divorce has been entered.  Spousal support is not guaranteed in any divorce case in Virginia but must be evaluated on a case by case basis.  Spousal support may ordered or agreed to be provided during the divorce and/or after and set for a limited or indefinite duration. Unlike child support which has guideline determinations provided by the Virginia Code, there are no guidelines for spousal support, therefore; the determination of a spousal support amount and duration can be one of the most complex points of a divorce both during negotiations and at trial.  

When does spousal support apply to a divorce case?

Typically, spousal support is at issue when the parties have been married for a substantial length of time and there is a significant difference in incomes (i.e. one spouse makes double the amount of income as the other spouse). 

Spousal support may be ordered or agreed upon temporarily and after the divorce for a set duration or indefinite duration.  

How do I ask for spousal support? 

You can either agree with your spouse for an amount of spousal support or you can request that the court make a determination of spousal support for a temporary duration, limited duration, or indefinite duration. 

How is alimony paid?

Spousal support can be paid either as a lump sum or through periodic payments. 

What factors are considered in an award of spousal support?

The court must look at many factors found at Va. Code Ann. § 20-107.1, including the parties' incomes, length of marriage, the standard of living during the marriage, the parties' ages and health, earning capacity, education, ability to pay, and the monetary and non-monetary contributions of each spouse to the well-being of the family. 

Can spousal support be modified? 

It depends.  If the amount is agreed upon in your Property Settlement Agreement, the agreement will dictate whether or not the amount is modifiable.  However, if the amount is awarded by a court, the spousal support is modifiable when there is a material change in circumstances "that was not reasonably in the contemplation of the parties when the award was made, or that an event, which the court anticipated would occur at some stage during the pendency of the award, and which was significant in the making of the award, did not, in fact, occur through no fault of the party seeking the modification."  Va. Code Ann. § 20-109(B).  Additionally, the Va. Code contemplates a modification of spousal support when either party retires.  

What are the tax implications of spousal support?

Spousal support awarded on January 1, 2019 or after such date is not taxable as income to the recipient and not tax-deductible by the paying spouse. Any awards given prior to January 1, 2019 are taxable to the recipient and tax-deductible by the paying spouse.

What happens in cases with adultery?

The judge may deny spousal support to the requesting spouse if adultery is proven and denying spousal support to the requesting spouse would not be a manifest injustice.  It is important to note that proving adultery is difficult in Virginia due to the high bar that the court sets for the evidence necessary to do so. 

NOVA Legal Professionals can assist you in analyzing the facts of your case and negotiating or presenting the best arguments related to a spousal support award.  

NOVA Legal Professionals

With almost 25 years of combined legal experience, we provide common sense, thoughtful, creative solutions with you and your children's best interests in mind. We will be conscientious of your time and money and attempt to reach an agreement with the least possible emotional strain and financial cost.
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