For those facing a high-asset divorce, usually, a primary concern is spousal support (i.e., spousal maintenance or alimony). Spousal support is recognized and available in Virginia, but it must be found appropriate by a family court judge.
How spousal support works
First, spousal support is awarded when warranted and when the judge determines that it is needed. If the court finds that spousal support is appropriate, it will then consider many factors. Such factors include the incomes and financial needs of both parties, along with how long the marriage lasted and the spouses’ standard of living.
The judge will also factor in the age and ability of both spouses to earn a living, what each spouse contributed to the marriage and the ability of each spouse to reenter the workforce. Finally, any property interests and assets are considered. This is in addition to the tax consequences and any other factors that the court deems necessary.
When spousal support is available
If there is an income or asset disparity in the marriage, spousal support is may be available in Virginia and when doing so would not constitute a manifest injustice. Accordingly, long-term marriages, dependent spouses, disabled spouses, etc. have a higher likelihood of receiving a spousal support award. Spousal support can be awarded temporarily (even during the divorce process), or permanently (or until modified).
How spousal support is calculated
Unfortunately, even if you think that you will be ordered to pay spousal support in Virginia or receive it, there is no statutory or regulatory formula for calculating the amount. This means that the judge has wide latitude and discretion in determining if spousal support is warranted, the amount to be awarded and the length of the award.