How Do Courts Determine Spousal Support in Virginia

In the Commonwealth of Virginia, issues related to spousal support often arise in divorce cases where the parties involved have been married for the duration of substantial time length and there is a considerable gap in their annual incomes. In such cases, the effective determination of an equitable amount as well as the duration of spousal support (also referred as ‘alimony’ in several other states across the US) can become quite challenging to compute.

Are there any supporting guidelines to determine spousal support in Virginia?

Unlike child support, the state of Virginia has no a straightforward formula to calculate a ‘presumptive’ amount of equitable or reasonable spousal support that is suitable for all spousal support cases. Although there are certain local guidelines you or your family lawyer can use to determine spousal support, they are in no way legally enforceable on circuit courts in Virginia divorce matters. Additionally, they do not even establish any binding or presumptive amount of spousal support. In fact, Virginia divorce courts are often free to even fully ignore them.

You must know that all such local guidelines regarding spousal support in Virginia were only primarily formulated for establishing just ‘pendete lite’ spousal support – temporary spousal support amount to be paid until the finalization of the divorce process. Also, the Northern Virginia guidelines for spousal support specify the caveat and caution that they were not put together for ‘high income’ profiles, where the gross monthly income of divorcing parties exceeds $10,000 when combined together.

Regardless of this, depending on the jurisdiction and the judge, Virginia circuit courts do usually take into account these local guidelines for support in assessing a reasonable amount of spousal support. Many judges will consider these guidelines as a basic starting step to evaluate spousal support.

Courts in Virginia have to first figure out whether the divorcing party seeking spousal support is legally eligible to obtain it – by taking into consideration the circumstances and factors that were responsible factor for the termination of the marital relationship. Although not always, adultery on part of one spouse will often bar the spouse from gaining spousal support.

In case the person seeking spousal support is, on any ground, not legally barred from obtaining it, then the court have to assess the nature, evaluate the amount, and determine the duration of a considerable spousal support award. And for this purpose, the courts will consider relevant factors as found in Virginia Code § 20-107.1.

You must know that such factors include the incomes as well as financial needs of each divorcing parties, the overall duration of the marital relationship, the fundamental standard of living as set during the marriage, and other applicable factors. A critical factor in several cases of spousal support is the decisions related to education, employment, economies, career and parenting arrangements formed by the divorcing parties during the marital relationship and their direct impact on not only future, but also present earning potential, including the time length of one or both the parties being absent from the job market.

How Do Courts Determine Spousal Support in Virginia – call us at 888-437-7747.