Criteria That Virginia Judges Must Consider When Making A Spousal Support Determination:
The following is a comprehensive list, pursuant to §20-107.1 of the Virginia Code, of all the criteria that must be considered by courts prior to making a spousal support award. Though parties are not required to go through this same list when settling their alimony issues outside of court, it is a good idea for divorcing couples to consider these same or similar factors when negotiating alimony:
The court, in determining whether to award support and maintenance for a spouse, shall consider the circumstances and factors which contributed to the dissolution of the marriage, specifically including adultery and any other ground for divorce…. In determining the nature, amount and duration of an award pursuant to this section, the court shall consider the following:
It Is Not A Punishment
Alimony is not seen as a punishment for a partner whose behavior has not been satisfactory in the marriage. Its simply a form of ensuring that neither party is materially impacted by the divorce. Behavior is taken into consideration, but its not the main determining factor when calculating the final alimony payment amount.
The Spousal Support Formula
The norm? No, Norm is not a guy we mean only that the Circuit Court of Fairfax has put together a formula a norm for decreeing one divorcing spouse must support another if a great economic discrepancy exists between the two of you. Other judges, perhaps in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, or another part of Hampton Roads, can feel free to use Fairfaxs formula or come up with their own way of getting the wealthier spouse to provide financial support after the divorce to the poorer spouse.
Fairfax tells divorcing couples that, if one of you makes 50 percent more than another, the one with the vastly higher earning power will pay spousal support to the other.
The formula gets a little mathy, so we will pick some nice, round numbers. Say Norm and Norma are getting divorced . Norm makes $100,000 a year definitely not working for any federal intelligence organization at all and certainly not the NSA, if thats what you were thinking.
Norma works at Food Lion peeling grapes for picky people. She makes around $20,000 a year, so the two of them make exactly $120,000 . Norm makes far more than 50 percent more than Norma, so Norm would pay Norma spousal support , but how much?
Fairfax Circuit Court decided the higher breadwinner should pay 30 percent of her or his income, less half the amount of the lower breadwinners income. So 30 percent of Norms $100,000 is $30,000, reduced by half of Normas pay, , so Norm would pay Norma $20,000 over the year, or $1,667 a month.
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Does Child Support Reduce Spousal Support Payments
Say Norville and Nora have two adorable children, Ned and Nancy . Fairfax Circuit Court, like all Virginia courts, takes the protection and care of Virginias children very seriously, so it modifies the percentages to take into account child support:
- 28 percent of the higher income and
- 58 percent of the lower income
The small adjustments are to allow adherence to the Code of Virginias child support guiding numbers. Unlike spousal support, the Code of Virginia is very clear on child support.
Periodic Payments For A Defined Duration
This is also referred to as rehabilitative spousal support. It is periodic but has a specific end date. For example, rehabilitative alimony could be awarded for four years, payable monthly. However, it could also end early if the recipient spouse remarries, lives with a person in a relationship equivalent to a marriage for more than one year, or if either spouse dies.
Rehabilitative spousal support is awarded to help the payee spouse become self-supporting through additional education or training.
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How Much Alimony Will I Get In Va
Determining alimony is a vital part of the divorce process, especially if youve been married for a very long period of time. Knowing what you are financially entitled to from your ex-spouse is critical to ensure that you can plan for your new future ahead of you. However, how alimony amounts are determined vastly depends on the state that you live in. So you may be asking yourself, How much alimony will I get in VA?
In this article, we look at how much alimony spouses can get when they leave their partners in the state of Virginia. We examine how to calculate what you are entitled to as well as provide some factors that you should bear in mind when seeking alimony during a divorce process in Virginia.
Why Would Someone Not Get Alimony
The most common reason is adultery. The spouse committing adultery is said to be barred from receiving spousal support. Now, that said, adultery is not an absolute bar. There exist affirmative defenses as well as other carve-outs, such as manifest injustice, that allow for an award of spousal support even for someone who committed adultery. But its a very uphill battle.
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Property Interests And Marital Property
The court will consider the overall financial resources of each party when calculating spousal support. The more property a party has, the more financial resources they have. Additionally, the marital home can only be awarded to one party in a divorce. The other party will have to find another place to live. With homes being costly, this will be taken into consideration when calculating spousal support.
Court Deviation With Relevant Evidence
As the good olCode of Virginia puts it, even if Fairfax Circuit Court laid out its guidelines on vellum with gold-edged pages, no other judge has to abide by the percentages:
The court may deviate from the presumptive amount for good cause shown, including any relevant evidence relating to the parties current financial circumstances that indicates the presumptive amount is inappropriate.
What relevant evidence would the court be looking for, to vary from either the default pendente lite amount or the final spousal support amount? Take your pick:
- Your ex-wife was a stay-at-home mother
- She committed adultery
- She needs job training to earn a living
- The high cost of keeping the family home for the sake of your kids
- She gave up a career or greatly scaled it back for the good of your marriage
To help sort out the many facets of spousal support in Virginia divorce, contact us at The Firm for Men, or call us at 757-383-9184 . We can clarify and detail what expenses you will face during, and after, your divorce. We are the only family law firm in Virginia protecting exclusively, and with offices in Virginia Beach and Newport News, youre just a hop, skip, and jump away from protecting your rights!
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Alimony And The Separation Agreement
Many divorcing couples work out the thorny details of alimony and other property divisions as well as other issues such as child custody in a contract known as a separation agreement.This agreement may be drawn before or after the parties file for divorce and even if they are still living together it is simply spells out legal rights and obligations without taking any formal action in a court of law. Once agreed to, however, this document, however, is enforceable as a contract should its terms be breached by either party. A separation agreement may also be incorporated into a final divorce decree and then is enforceable as a court order. It is advisable to work with an attorney in crafting a separation agreement that does not waive any rights or the possibility of modification of terms.If alimony is agreed to in the property settlement agreement and the agreement is incorporated into the final decree, then the court doesnt have the power to change it. But if the court sets the amount of alimony, it may maintain complete control as to whether it can be raised, lowered, or halted.
Alimony And Property Settlement
Under the law, the judge must consider evidence of the amount of income to be generated by any monetary award prior to awarding alimony. The criteria to be applied by the judge in alimony cases is set forth in the Virginia code. They include the following:Length of the marriage.Contributions to the family during marriage.Prospects of the parties.Standard of living during the marriage.
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Explanation Of Virginia Spousal Support And Alimony Laws
Nothing can replace consulting with an attorney to understand the information contained in statutes. However, you can learn a lot about the law by reading a plain language version of the content. See the chart below for a basic explanation of spousal support and alimony laws in Virginia.
Eligibility for support
In Virginia, the court allows spousal support to be awarded to a spouse only when it’s necessary.
When deciding whether to award support to a spouse, the court considers the factors and circumstances that contributed to the dissolution of the marriage, including grounds such as adultery. If the spouse seeking support has committed adultery, then they will not be awarded support.
Factors that determine amount and duration of support
The court will determine the nature, amount, and duration of support using factors, including but not limited to the following:
Taking A Closer Look At A Few Of The Spousal Support Factors:
One must always remember that there are 13 factors for a court to consider when determining a spousal support award. Under the statute, no one factor is given any precedence over another. The emphasis on any particular factor depends on the specific facts of the case and the objective sought. As stated by the Virginia Court of Appeals when asked to review a trial courts spousal support decision with regard to a particular factor:
t is only one of thirteen such factors enumeratedfor the courts consideration, some economic and some non-economic, with number thirteen being an open-ended directive that the court shall consider uch other factors as are necessary to consider the equities between the parties. Robinson v. Robinson, 675 S.E.2d 873, 54 Va. App. 87 .
It quickly becomes obvious that analysis of most spousal support issues requires consultation with an experienced divorce lawyer.
Spousal Support Factor #1: Obligations, Needs and Financial Resources
The first spousal support factor the court is required to consider is:
The obligations, needs and financial resources of the parties, including but not limited to income from all pension, profit sharing or retirement plans, of whatever nature. Spousal support and Obligations.
What are obligations?
What are needs?
What are financial resources?
Spousal Support Factor #1: Summary
Spousal Support Factor #2: Standard of living during the marriage
How is the standard of living during the marriage measured?
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How To File For Alimony In Virginia: Everything You Need To Know
If you or your spouse has initiated divorce proceedings, there are several topics that youll need to negotiate before finalizing your divorce.
Most people will think of splitting assets or figuring out child custody, but alimony is another important area that you should address.
Especially if youve been married for a long time, or if one spouse is unable to support themselves on their own, a Virginia court may require that one of you pay spousal support to the other.
Spousal support and alimony mean basically the same thing, despite having slightly different definitions when it comes to how the terms are used in different states.
The Virginia Code, for example, refers to such payments as spousal support, despite alimony being the more common term in popular culture.
For this reason, your attorney may choose to refer to these payments as spousal support.
Or, they might choose to use alimony as a way to simplify the issue a little bit.
Theres really no difference in the end, as the terms mean the same thing when you get away from the lawyer nitty-gritty of your case.
In this article, well be using alimony.
However, if youre looking for more information about how these payments work in Virginia, you should also try searching for spousal support to see if it turns up more information.
Factors Involved In Calculating Alimony
If the spouse seeking alimony convinces the judge it is necessary, the next step is to figure out how much the payor will pay and how long it will last. Factors include:
- Each partys age and health
- Their individual incomes and financial needs
- How long the marriage lasted
- The standard of living established during the marriage
- How much the spouse seeking support contributed to the education, training or increased earning power of the other spouse
- The extent to which the age, condition or special circumstances of one or more children in the house led to one of the spouses to stay home instead of working outside the home
- Property interests of the parties
A middle-aged or older spouse who worked as a homemaker and primary child-raiser for several decades, forgoing their career, is more likely to receive a larger, longer-term alimony order than someone who has the training and experience to support themselves. In cases where the recipient is unlikely ever to become self-sufficient, perhaps due to their age or lack of work history, the court might order indefinite alimony. Otherwise, the alimony will last for long enough to give the recipient time to find high-enough paying work.
Alimony can be a source of serious dispute in divorce. The higher-earning spouse often denies that their ex needs or is entitled to support. The other spouse may have to fight to prove that alimony is necessary for them.
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Alimony And Spousal Support In Virginia
Learn about alimony laws in Virginia and how judges decide the final spousal support award.
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Virginia alimony laws dictate that an award is only granted when the court decides it is necessary. Typically, when spouses are in a long-term marriage when one is a stay-at-home provider, there is a wide income disparity, or where a spouse has a disability or doesnt have a job.
Contrary to popular belief, there is no right or entitlement to spousal support in Virginia. Courts determine whether a spouse receives alimony on a case-by-case basis.
Heres what else you should know.
Main Types Of Alimony
Temporary Alimony: is granted for a specific amount of time. This may be during separation or in the case of an ongoing divorce. Temporary maintenance stipend is granted to a dependent spouse to support them while they train or study in order to financially support themselves in the future.Permanent Alimony: is granted if either of the spouses has a physical disability that prevents them from financially supporting themselves or if the spouse is too old to work. Permanent spousal support is more likely to be granted in marriages that were considered long term.
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Additional Factors To Consider
When a judge is deciding on how to award alimony, theyll consider all of the circumstances of the divorce.
While you wont be in a criminal courtroom, anything you say or do can be used against you also applies in this scenario.
Put another way, the other factors surrounding your divorce proceedings might affect the alimony award.
Alimony is NOT a Punishment
Divorces are often filled with lots of emotions and arguments.
However, you should NEVER file for alimony as a way of punishing your spouse.
First off, a judge will never award alimony to punish a spouse for the actions that led to the divorce.
The whole point of spousal support is to mitigate the effect the divorce has on the lower earners way of life, not to punish the higher-earning spouse.
Second, judges dont enjoy having their time wasted.
It takes a lot of work to schedule court dockets, coordinate all the officials involved, and prepare for alimony proceedings, so filing a fruitless alimony case just to get back at your spouse will only end badly for you.
Alimony for the Spouse Who Committed Adultery
Another common scenario is for a spouse to file for divorce on the grounds of adultery.
However, what happens if the adulterous spouse qualifies for alimony?
Well, Virginia law generally doesnt allow permanent spousal support for spouses who commit adultery.
If you remember the thirteen variables we mentioned earlier, this would fall under the final point as a disqualifying factor.