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How Does Spousal Support Work In Virginia?

Alimony, or (as it is more often referred to in more modern times) spousal support, is another complex area of law. In Virginia, spousal support is only available to a married couple who have separated. It can fall into several categories: it can be pendente lite (meaning: temporary/pending a final decision on the establishment of spousal support), an initial determination of spousal support, or a modification of a prior spousal support award.

Pendente lite spousal support is only available to a married couple who have separated and have not entered into a final agreement or had a final hearing on the issue of support. It is intended to be temporary and to ensure that both parties can maintain themselves financially pending the final hearing on the divorce. Courts do not tend to take into account all the things that a court at a final hearing would consider in determining pendente lite spousal support; for example, many courts will not consider arguments related to the imputation of income to a party at a pendente lite hearing.

If you have questions or concerns about spousal support in your divorce, call a spousal support lawyer at Lee Lopez Law PLLC at 703-259-8731, or complete our contact form. With offices in Arlington, we advise and represent clients throughout Northern Virginia.

Factors Affecting Spousal Support Determinations

A determination of spousal support at a final hearing will take into account a number of factors:

First, the courts will need to determine whether or not support should be awarded at all.

Second, if the court determines spousal support should be awarded to a party, the court will need to determine the amount of support, as well as the duration. The court can award spousal support for a period of years (this is known as a defined duration award) or for an undefined period of time (better known as a permanent award).

Given changes to our society over the years, courts have generally been moving away from awarding spousal support to an income-earning spouse and have overall limited the period of time that an award of support would be provided.

If your spousal support can be modified, you must first prove a material change in circumstances since the date of the original award of support. A modification might also include a termination of support if the facts support such change.

A party can also be awarded a reservation of spousal support, which means that the party can seek spousal support in the future. Without an award of spousal support or an award of a reservation, Virginia law states that the party has waived his or her right to obtain spousal support. It is easy to unintentionally waive your right to spousal support, so be cautious in approaching this issue.

As in all areas of law, this is a very fact-specific inquiry that requires a knowledgeable divorce attorney’s advice.

Contact Us If You Have Alimony Concerns

For a confidential consultation regarding your divorce and spousal support concerns, call Lee Lopez Law in Arlington at 703-259-8731 or complete our contact form. We can answer your questions and explain your rights and options.