Spousal support, often referred to as alimony or support and maintenance, is the payment of money from one party to a divorce to the other. It is an important element of many divorces as some individuals are financially dependent on their partners during their relationships and are not prepared to meet their own financial needs once their marriages end. Spousal support helps balance the resources of the parties and makes a plan for financial support into the future.
There are many things that Virginia residents should know about spousal support when preparing to divorce, and this post will cover some of the biggest issues that often arise. However, when readers are specific questions about their own spousal support matters, it is important that they seek their own counsel to best serve their needs.
Fact 1: There are different structures to spousal support
Most individuals think of spousal support as a monthly obligation between the parties to a divorce, and in many cases that assumption is correct. Many spousal support obligations are structured around monthly payments of a fixed sum. However, spousal support can also be made in lump sums, in which a single payment is made between exes. In a lump sum spousal support structure, once the paying party passes on the payment, their obligation to their ex is complete.
Fact 2: Fault can impact spousal support
As some readers may know, Virginia recognizes several fault grounds for divorce. These grounds include adultery, cruelty, felony convictions, and others. When a person has engaged in one or more of these fault grounds for divorce, their access to permanent support from their ex may be impacted. Though courts can balance equities and provide individuals whose fault contributed to their divorces with permanent spousal support, it is not the default for divorces in Virginia.
Fact 3: Not all spousal support awards look the same
Just as different marriages operate under different expectations and experiences, different divorces also take diverging paths. For example, when a court considers if spousal support should be part of a divorce, it will look at many factors, including but not limited to:
- How long the parties were married
- The standard of living enjoyed by the parties during their married
- The parties’ property and contributions to the marriage
- How much money each party can make through employment
Based on an assessment of the parties’ unique situation, a court can make a decision regarding spousal support, its amount, and duration. Men and women are eligible for spousal support, and when preparing one’s case for it, divorce and family law attorneys can be helpful for information and advocacy.