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What you need to know about spousal support in a Virginia divorce

On Behalf of | May 2, 2023 | Family Law

When a couple decides to divorce in Virginia, one of the most significant issues that often arises is the question of spousal support, also known as alimony. It is a form of financial assistance paid by one spouse to the other after a divorce to assist with living expenses.

Below are some things you need to know about alimony in a Virginia divorce.

Who is eligible for spousal support?

In Virginia, either spouse may be eligible to receive spousal support, regardless of gender. Generally, the spouse seeking support must demonstrate a financial need, while the other spouse must be able to pay. 

However, eligibility is not automatic and is determined on a case-by-case basis. Issues like adultery can make a spouse ineligible for alimony.

How is spousal support calculated?

The circumstances of each divorce are different. As such, the law does not set a predetermined amount of spousal support. Some of the factors courts consider include the following:

  • The financial needs of each spouse
  • Their age and health
  • The ability of the paying spouse to make the payments
  • The length of the marriage
  • The standards of living established in the marriage
  • The length of the marriage, among others

The amount ordered by the court can be modified should there be a substantial change in circumstances for either spouse since the judgment was rendered.

How long does spousal support last?

Again, this depends on each case’s unique circumstances. However, the marriage’s length is a determining factor. The longer the marriage, the greater the duration of alimony. In some cases, spousal support is paid for life.

Is spousal support optional?

Court-ordered spousal support is mandatory, and the paying spouse must make the payments or risk a raft of legal and financial penalties. Some enforcement measures a court uses include withholding income and holding the defaulter in contempt of court.

Alimony can go a long way in helping you adjust to a new life post-divorce. Therefore, if you are going through a divorce or it’s on the horizon, it helps to have the necessary legal guidance to understand how alimony works.