A common concern when parties chose to separate and finalize their divorce is the payment of alimony or spousal support.

Here are the answers to the questions Michelle Hopkins and her legal team are most commonly asked about alimony or spousal support:

If I get divorced in Virginia will I have to pay alimony or spousal support?

No, alimony is not awarded for every divorce case.

How is alimony or spousal support calculated in Virginia?

Alimony is calculated based upon both parties’ respective incomes, a party’s legitimate need for support, the duration of the marriage, the standard of living established during the marriage and additional factors which will be discussed in detail below.

What factors impact alimony or spousal support?

There are several factors which impact a spouse’s eligibility to receive alimony payments:

  • Duration of marriage. A long-term marriage is considered greater than 20 years, while a short-term marriage is considered less than 10 years. The dissolution of long-term marriages most frequently includes an award of alimony. The shorter the duration, the less likelihood that alimony would be Ordered in Court.
  • Earning ability and need. The Court considers a spouse’s ability to support themselves and if they have a need for alimony to support themselves. For example; a party who acted as a homemaker during the marriage and has been out of the work force for twenty years, or who has severe medical conditions which impact their ability to work, has reduced earning abilities and an increased need for alimony.
  • Non-monetary contributions. When considering what an award of alimony would be, Judges consider how the potential recipient contributed to the marriage in non-monetary ways. If a spouse who did not work outside the home kept the house clean, cooked, cared for children, etc, this would be considered a positive non-monetary contribution. Without this spouse dedicating their life to their family, the spouse who worked outside of the home would not have had the necessary support to dedicate so much of their time to their career.
  • Adultery. A party who commits adultery is not eligible for alimony unless their spouse agrees to pay it voluntarily or cannot prove that the adultery occurred.

Can alimony or spousal support be paid for life in Virginia?

Alimony may be paid for the remainder of a party’s life in Virginia, and such life time payments may be voluntarily agreed upon or Ordered by the Court. However, there are many factors which impact the duration of spousal support payments.

How is alimony or spousal support paid?

Some spouses remit monthly payments to the recipient of alimony, and others opt to pay a large lump sum payment. Should a payor decide to remit monthly payments, it is always recommended to do so in a way that is trackable, such as checks or direct deposit. In the event that a payor arranges for automatic monthly payments of alimony, it is recommended that they ensure each payment is successfully transferred each month to ensure that no payments are missed.

Can you receive alimony or spousal support in Virginia if you work?

While alimony is most frequently awarded to spouses who did not work outside the home during the marriage, there are some scenarios wherein someone may be eligible for alimony even if they are actively employed.

Generally speaking, if one spouse earned significantly more than the other spouse during the marriage, for example, $300,000 yearly v. $30,000 yearly, an award of spousal support could potentially be Ordered. If the parties earned comparable incomes during the marriage, spousal support is most often not awarded.

Am I expected to work after I am divorced?

If a spouse is healthy and able to work, there is generally an expectation that they should obtain employment to become self-sustaining after the marriage.

Michelle Hopkins and her team are ready to help you with your unique alimony questions and goals. Please call 571-248-2210 to make an appointment to discuss your specific needs today.

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