In our state, spouses have a financial duty to each other until they divorce. However, in some cases, that financial obligation may continue after divorce through spousal support or alimony ordered by a Virginia family law judge.
Spousal support, generally
Virginia judges can only mandate spousal support if it is necessary. Usually, this is for long-lasting marriages where one spouse is out of the workforce for an extended period or one of the spouses is disabled, where there is a large gap in the spouses’ incomes, etc.
Keep in mind that family law judges do consider why the marriage is dissolving when considering whether alimony is awarded. This includes adultery. As such, if the spouse seeking alimony committed adultery, they will likely not get an alimony award.
The Virginia family law judge determines if an alimony award is appropriate, including the amount and duration, based on several factors. First, the judge looks at the spouses themselves. They look at each spouse’s income and income potential, as well as each spouse’s financial needs. Next, they look at each spouse’s physical condition (age, mental health, etc.).
They look at what each spouse contributed to the other spouse, including education, training or anything that increased that spouse’s earning potential. If one spouse was a stay-at-home spouse, the judge will look at why and whether it was appropriate for them to stay home, for example, to care for children. The judge also looks at the property interests of each spouse and what each spouse individually and collectively owns.
Finally, the judge looks at the marriage itself. The judge looks at the standard of living that was established during the marriage, in addition to the duration of the Alexandria, Virginia, marriage.
The judge can order that support be paid over time or in a lump sum, and it can be for a specified time or no duration at all. However, no matter how long the alimony is ordered, it automatically ends when either spouse dies, or the receiving spouse remarries or cohabitates with another person like they are married. Of course, there is more to be written on this topic, and this Alexandria, Virginia, blog will post more in the future.