Home 9 Alimony

alimony-attorney-newport-newsAlso known as spousal support, alimony is ordered to maintain the lifestyle of a financially dependent party accustomed to during the marriage. Traditionally, when most women did not work and were dependent on their husband’s income, it served to protect them. The modern role of spousal support is to serve as an equalizing force between the parties. It seeks to put the parties on essentially equal footing.

Calculating Support

There are two ways the court can calculate the support. The first is to look at the two parties respective incomes and split the difference between them. The second is to look the income and expenses of each party and put them in the same financial position. If the two party’s financial states are close enough together, no spousal support would normally be awarded.

The court may also consider other factors which may increase or lower the support obligation. These may be extraordinary contributions one party may have made to the financial future of the other party, one party’s ability to be self supporting despite current income, and even fault in the dissolution of the marriage.

How Long is Alimony Paid?

Traditionally support was ordered for the life of the spouse, however the court can limit the support for a particular time. This is typically when the parties have been married for only a few years and the spouse receiving the support has the ability to eventually provide his or her own support.

However, if a spouse has become disabled during the marriage and will not be able to reasonably live without the support of the other party, the court will award lifetime support. If a party who is receiving support enters into another marriage or a relationship that is essentially the equivalent of marriage, the obligation to continue the support will end.

Spousal Support in Virginia

Divorce is never an easy decision and frequently presents financial challenges for the parties. For instance, a significant disparity in the earning power between the parties could leave one of them struggling to make ends meet. The experienced Virginia alimony attorneys at The Law Offices of John W. Lee, P.C. in Hampton Roads may be able to assist their client in receiving spousal support to close the financial gap.

Virginia Marital Alimony Lawyers Use the Law to Help Clients

In most cases, parents are obligated to support their children even after a separation or divorce. A child support award is based on guidelines applicable to parents whether they reside in Hampton Roads, Virginia Beach or elsewhere in the commonwealth.  A spousal support award is based upon need and other factors included in Virginia Code Section 20-107.1.  

Factors Considered by Judges

Judges take into consideration the following factors when determining spousal support:

  • Financial needs, obligations and resources of the parties
  • Duration of the marriage
  • Standard of living the couple enjoyed during the marriage
  • Age, physical condition and mental health of each of the parties
  • Special or unusual circumstances specific to the family
  • Inability of one spouse to work outside the home due to age or other factors pertaining to a child of the marriage
  • Monetary and nonmonetary contributions made by each party
  •  Real and personal property owned by each of the parties
  • Provisions made in the divorce for equitable distribution of marital assets
  • Education, skills and training of each party as they pertain to the ability to obtain employment and earning capacity
  • Contribution of each party to the education or career advancement of the other, such as when one spouse works to put the other through medical school
  • Employment decisions made during the marriage
  • Length of time a party has been away from the job market

Judges are also authorized to take other factors besides those listed in the statute into consideration in making their decision regarding alimony. Tax consequences and the conduct of each of the parties in contributing to the breakup of the marriage may also be considered by the court. If the parties cannot reach an agreement with the aid of Virginia alimony attorneys, a court must identify in the paperwork accompanying its order the factors supporting the decision to grant, reserve or deny the request for alimony.

Effect of Divorce Grounds on Alimony

In today’s society, divorce rates might suggest that the grounds for ending a marriage aren’t as crucial as financial and custody matters, but that’s incorrect. A skilled Hampton divorce attorney understands that judges consider each party’s conduct in deciding alimony, with adultery potentially leading to spousal support denial.

An attorney representing someone accused of adultery may argue that the denial of spousal support would be an injustice. The lawyer might seek to show a disparity in the financial circumstances of each of the parties making the denial of alimony inequitable.Adultery may not always bar someone from receiving spousal support if their lawyer can demonstrate that denying it is an injustice.

Types of Spousal Support

Couples who are separating can negotiate on any type of support and incorporate them into a property settlement agreement. Contested divorces, however, leave the decision to the court with the following options available to it:

  • Periodic payments: Payments from one party to the other paid at specific intervals, such as weekly, monthly or quarterly, are referred to as permanent alimony because it continues until the death of either party or the remarriage or cohabitation of the receiving spouse in a relationship akin to a marriage for a year or longer. If a court orders periodic payments for a specific duration, such as a year or five years, the payments are considered to be rehabilitative in nature because they are intended to last only as long as necessary for the spouse to become self-supporting.
  • Lump sum payment: A court may order a lump sum as alimony instead of periodic payments. The amount can be paid in a single payment or in installments
  • Reservation: When a court neither denies nor grants a spouse’s request for alimony, it can grant a reservation. Reservation means the individual can make a future request for alimony within a specific length of time as stated in the judge’s order.

Courts can order various alimony types based on financial circumstances, including temporary support during divorce proceedings. This may happen when there’s a wage-earning gap, potentially creating financial leverage between spouses during negotiations.

Modification of Alimony

Regardless of the type of alimony awarded, a lawyer can file a request for a modification in the future. Modification of alimony orders requires proof of a material change in the circumstances of either the person paying alimony or the one receiving it.

Courts can’t alter alimony terms in signed agreements unless specific legal grounds, like fraud or duress, exist. Seeking legal advice on property settlements early on helps maintain stability, even if marital issues haven’t escalated.

Getting Skilled Representation From Hampton Road Attorneys

The Law Offices of John W. Lee, P.C., has a skilled team of marital alimony lawyers. We are here to protect the rights and safeguard the financial futures of the people we represent. Anyone facing divorce and family law issues should contact us today at (757) 896-0868 for a free and confidential consultation.

We have four Hampton Roads locations in Virginia Beach, Hampton, Chesapeake and Newport News. Also in Poquoson, Yorktown, Williamsburg, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Suffolk. And not to forget York, James City and Gloucester Counties.

Our attorneys have more than 70 years of combined experience to put to work on behalf of our clients.