Questions Concerning Spousal Support

Many people assume that they are entitled to spousal support after they have separated from their spouse. Unfortunately, obtaining support from your soon-to-be ex-spouse may be much more difficult than you originally anticipated

Questions Concerning Spousal Support

Answers from a Northern Virginia Spousal Support Attorney

Let a Northern Virginia divorce lawyer from our law firm help you find the answers you need in regards to spousal support! Below are several questions and answers concerning this topic:

How can I get spousal support and how long can I receive payment?

There are no hard and fast guidelines for determining either the amount or duration of spousal support in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Most jurisdictions follow temporary (pendente lite) spousal support guidelines, which may be used to calculate support pending a formal determination of final support. The touchstone consideration for determining whether and how much spousal support may be required is one spouse’s financial need balanced against the other’s ability to pay. If the divorce will leave one spouse with very little income and the other with sufficient income to contribute support, generally the court will award support. In the classic case, spousal support is awarded to a homemaker who has put his/her career on hold for the benefit of the family and paid by the wage-earning spouse who has worked during the marriage and enjoyed the benefit of a steadily increasing income. In short-term marriages of say less than ten (10) years, that assistance may continue for a period to enable the recipient spouse to further his/her education, receive job training and reestablish him/herself in the workforce. For longer term marriages of, such rehabilitation may not be possible and support may continue indefinitely. No two parties’ circumstances are the same and thus support amounts and durations tend to vary.

May I accept spousal support in a lump sum payment instead of a monthly payment?

Yes, you are free to agree on spousal support in nearly any form you wish. Though accepting regular monthly payments for a specific duration is most common, spouses can agree to one-time, lump sum payments, transfers of assets or payment of certain expenses in lieu of “regular” support. The parties may also agree that the support amount either increase or decrease over time to account for the recipient spouse’s financial needs.

What factors will the court consider when setting the permanent spousal support?

The following are some of the factors the court will consider in order spousal support:

  • The earning capacity of each party, including their education, skills and work experience
  • The standard of living established during the marriage
  • The supporting party’s ability to pay
  • The parties’ respective contributions to the marriage
  • The needs of each party including the minor children
  • The duration of the marriage
  • The tax consequences to the parties
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