Spousal support - Family Law


Spousal support refers to the practice of one member of the marriage regularly providing support for another after a divorce. Unlike child support, Virginia does not have a statewide formula for determining a reasonable amount of spousal support in all spousal support cases. This differs from child support as it is to help support and maintain the lifestyle of one half of the divorced pair rather than help care for a child produced from the relationship. Also referred to as maintenance, spousal support is only paid in about 10% of all instances of divorce.


Under the federal divorce act, spousal support is most likely to be paid when there is a big difference between the spouses’ incomes after they separate. However, this is not always the case. Nevertheless, depending on the judge and the jurisdiction, circuit courts in Virginia do often look to these local guidelines for assistance in determining a proper spousal support amount. A court may decide that the spouse with the lower income is not entitled to support. The court may reach this decision if that spouse has a lot of assets, or if the difference in income cannot be traced to anything that happened during the relationship.


Spousal support is financial assistance that recognizes a partner’s contribution to the marriage and helps the recipient achieve financial independence. Alimony is available only to those who were legally married. The court will award financial assistance based on factors such as the duration of the marriage, each person’s earning capacity, contribution to household or career, and physical health of the recipient.


In order for a spouse to receive these monthly payments, it is up to them to provide evidence that they lack the sufficient property necessary to provide for their needs. The property considered will include that which is awarded as part of the divorce decree or separation agreement. They will also need to show a sufficient cause as to why they would be unable to support themselves through gainful employment.


The amount and duration of spousal support payments are set out in ection 162 of the Family Law Act and are determined by considering the conditions, means, and needs of each spouse, in addition to the length of time the spouses lived together and the functions performed by each spouse during the period they lived together such as housekeeping or raising children.


Spousal support laws vary among states. Most states have cut back on awarding permanent alimony in favor of temporary or rehabilitative spousal support to encourage the recipient to become self-sufficient. Recipients may also get temporary support if they are the primary caregiver of the couple’s children.

Child support payments do take priority over spousal support. There is no firm dollar figure for spousal support. The amount should be decided by both parties. Some common ways of calculating spousal support are to take up to 40% of the paying spouse’s net income (postchild support), less 50% of the amount of the supported spouse’s net income if he or she is working.


If you need help with this type of case in Fairfax, Prince William (Manassas), Fauquier (Warrenton), Loudoun (Leesburg), Caroline, Stafford, Spotsylvania (Fredericksburg), Chesterfield, Henrico, Arlington, Richmond, Alexandria, call our law firm immediately for help and speak to a lawyer about your options.

The SRIS Law Group can help you best possible outcome based on the facts of your case. If you wish to consult an SRIS Law Group, P.C. attorney, call us at 888-437-7747