Whether you pay or receive spousal support, one thing you will want to know is how long it will last. There are many variables when it comes to making decisions about spousal support, including for how long payments will go on. The ultimate decision lies with the judge in your case, but the law does offer some guidance about what to expect. 

According to the Code of Virginia, the law does set guidelines for whether or not a judge can issue a permanent spousal support award. In general, if the grounds for the divorce are in favor of the person who will pay, the judge cannot award permanent spousal support. In any other case, the judge must consider the percentage of fault of each party and award support due to the degree of fault, along with considering the finances of each party. 

Payment set up 

When the court issues a spousal support order, it must state the dates of each payment under the order. The court can issue payment as a lump sum. It can also state a defined period of payment, such as three years, or it can make payments indefinite. The court has the option to combine periodic payments with a lump sum payment as well. 

Future awards 

The court has the option to reassess the case and order spousal support in the future. However, if it does this, then the length of time you will pay or receive support can only be for half of the total length of your marriage. The court cannot change this time limit.