Fairfax Spousal Support Lawyer

Spousal support is money a higher-earning spouse pays to a financially dependent or disadvantaged spouse during a divorce or separation and after a marriage ends. Spousal support is not mandatory in Virginia—a spouse must demonstrate that they require support and that the other spouse has enough money to live independently and provide financial support to the claiming spouse.

To learn more about the alimony that you might need to pay or receive, get in touch with an experienced family lawyer. A Fairfax spousal support lawyer understands the law on these issues and knows how the courts might apply it in our specific situation.

Temporary Support During Divorce Proceedings

When a couple lives apart during a divorce, a court may award support pendente lite, which is temporary spousal support. A couple may decide how much support the higher-earning spouse should provide, and a Fairfax attorney could help them negotiate an agreement and formalize it in writing. If there is a disagreement, a court will determine how much support the lower-earning spouse receives.

If the spouses’ combined gross income is less than $10,000 per month, the court uses a formula to arrive at a presumptive support amount. If the couple has minor children, the court will award the receiving spouse 26 percent of the paying spouse’s gross income minus 58 percent of the receiving spouse’s gross income. If the couple does not have minor children in common, the court will award the receiving spouse 27 percent of the paying spouse’s gross income minus 50 percent of the receiving spouse’s gross income.

The formula does not apply if the couple’s combined gross income exceeds $10,000 per month. In the case of higher-income couples, the courts use the same factors to determine support pendente lite as they would to calculate post-divorce support.

Spousal Support After Divorce

Virginia Code § 20-107.1E lists the factors a judge must consider when awarding spousal support. Among the important considerations are the marriage’s duration, each spouse’s income and other financial resources, each spouse’s needs, and the couple’s standard of living during the marriage. The courts will also examine whether either spouse prioritized looking after the family at the expense of their career.

The same factors are used determine the duration of support. In some cases, alimony is a bridge until a spouse can become self-supporting. In other situations, financial support lasts much longer. A court might award long-term support when the marriage was long-lasting, the paying spouse has considerable resources, and the receiving spouse has little ability to support themselves to the standard the couple enjoyed. A Fairfax spousal support attorney could help an individual get a better idea of the alimony amount they owe or are owed.

How Does Adultery Impact Spousal Support?

If one spouse files for divorce citing adultery as the grounds and proves their spouse committed adultery, a court usually will not award the adulterous spouse support. However, there is no law barring the adulterous spouse from receiving support, and a judge could award it if they feel it is merited.

Modifying Alimony Orders

When the court does not set a specific term for spousal support, it ends on the death of one of the parties or when the receiving spouse remarries. If the receiving party cohabitates with an intimate partner for more than a year, the paying party could seek to terminate support.

In other instances, shifting circumstances might merit changing the court’s spousal support order.  If either spouse has a significant change in income or other life event, such as having another child, being in a serious car crash, developing a chronic illness, or taking on the care of an elderly parent, they could ask the court to adjust the alimony payments accordingly.

Sometimes a paying spouse attempts to hide income to reduce their alimony payment, or the spouse earns significantly less than their education and skills would indicate they could earn. If a court believes a party is underearning to avoid paying support, they could impute income to that party. A Fairfax spousal support attorney could explain how a court might impute income and under what circumstances.

Schedule a Consultation with a Fairfax Spousal Support Attorney

Spousal support can be a source of contention between couples and often triggers deep emotional responses, in addition to significantly impacting each spouse’s financial life going forward. Judges have broad discretion to make an award that seems fair under the circumstances.

A Fairfax spousal support lawyer could offer insight into the factors a court will consider when deciding alimony issues. Call today to speak with a legal professional about your case.