VirginiaAlimony Guide - Spousal Support Laws
Virginia Alimony Guide :: Table of Contents
What is Alimony?
Alimony, also known as spousal support, is a court-ordered provision of financial support a spouse for after a divorce. Alimony laws vary considerably from state to state, and courts often have significant flexibility on a case-by-case basis in determing whether to award alimony, how much alimony to award, and how long alimony payments will continue.
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How is an Alimony Proceeding Handled?
In the state of Virginia, during a proceeding for dissolution of marriage or legal separation, or following said proceedings, a court may grant a maintenance order to either spouse if it finds the spouse seeking maintenance to be in need. Maintenance support is also known as alimony. Several factors decide whether or not the individual receives support, how much support they receive, how often they receive it, and for how long the support must continue.
Factors that go into whether or not the spouse receives support include, but are not limited to:
- If the spouse seeking support lacks sufficient property, including marital property distributed to the spouse in the divorce proceedings, to provide reasonable needs of the spouse with the standard of living established during the marriage taken into consideration.
- If the spouse seeking support is incapable to provide self-support through employment, to keep the standard of living established during the marriage.
- If the spouse seeking support is the custodian of a child or children that are of the condition or age that make it appropriate for the individual to forgo employment for the sake of the child’s caretaking.
The amount and duration of support are considered dependent on a few other factors, including, but not limited to:
- The financial resources of both parties, including marital property, and the ability of both parties to support their needs independently of each other.
- The ability of the more monetarily independent spouse to provide support while continuing their standard of living.
- The time needed for the dependent spouse to obtain appropriate job training, education, and employment to be able to independently return to the standard of living established during marriage.
- The duration of the marriage and the role of either spouse as a homemaker.
- The length of absence from employment of either party for the benefit of the marriage.
- The contributions of both parties to the marriage and marital properties.
Any other factor the court deems relevant to the specific case will also be taken into consideration for the ruling of the case. In the end, the final judgment is based on the court’s decision.
In the state of Virginia, a number of factors are taken into account when calculating the amount and duration of alimony or spousal support payments.
Is there a set list of statutory factors for calculating alimony?
Virginia has a defined list of factors, described in statutory law, that are legally required to be considered by a judge when determining alimony payments. These factors may be directly connected to the alimony calculation formula.
Is marital fault considered in Virginia alimony?
Virginia considers marital fault when determining alimony payments. This means that "at-fault" divorces, which may be caused by infidelity / adultery, abuse, etc, can result in the at-fault party paying more "punitive" alimony.
Is standard of living considered in Virginia alimony?
Standard of living is considered when calculating alimony payments in the state of Virginia. This means that a judge will consider the lifestyle enjoyed by the alimony-receiving spouse during the duration of the marriage when determining an appropriate alimony payment amount.
Is custodial status considered when determining alimony in the state of Virginia?
The judge in the state of Virginia does not consider custodial status when determining alimony payments. This means that alimony calculations are not affected by whether or not the receiving spouse has custody of the children.
How exactly is alimony calculated in the state of Virginia?
Calculation of alimony is generally done on a case-by-case basis by the Virginia family court judge who is responsible for the case. While some states have a fixed alimony calculation formula, in most cases the final amount and duration of alimony awarded (if alimony is awarded) is at the discretion of the judge.
- How long must alimony be paid?
- The duration of payments is determined by a judge in Virginia family court. Alimony length is usually based on length of marriage - one commonly used standard for alimony duration is that 1 year of alimony is paid every three years of marriage (however, this is not always the case in every state or with every judge). Alimony may also be discontinued upon the remarriage or cohabitation of the receiving spouse. In some cases, judges may even award permanent alimony.
- What happens if alimony isn't paid?
- If alimony is unpaid, the owed debt is known as alimony arrears. Arrears can be collected via mediation, small claims court, or wage garnishment. Failure to comply with a court-issued spousal support order may also result in a contempt of court charge against the spouse who failed to pay owed alimony.
- Can alimony be waived by a prenuptual agreement?
- A prenup agreement is a contract between spouses regarding marriage-related financial matters signed prior to marriage. Limitation or waiving rights to alimony is a frequent clause in modern prenuptual agreements, but some states or localities prohibit such alimony waivers.
- Can alimony be collected if you're not married?
- The legal concept of alimony, otherwise known as spousal support, is dependant upon a legal marriage. However, in some areas - especially those with a concept of common-law marriage - "palimony", or support payments between non-married individuals, has been awarded by courts. However, this generally requires extenuating circumstances.
- What is alimony mediation?
When a marriage ends through divorce and alimony is expected to be paid, spouses have the choice to determine an alimony agreement either through litigation (in Virginia family court) or through mutual agreement. Often, a Virginia alimony mediator can be brought in to help the ex-spouses come to a mutual agreement regarding alimony and other contested issues such as property division, and thus avoid having to go to court.
- How are alimony payments taxed?
On a federal level, all qualifying Virginia alimony payments are deductible by the payor, and counted as taxable income by the recipient. To qualify as alimony under IRS guidelines, the following must be true:
- The payments are in cash
- The parties live in seperate households
- The payments are strictly for alimony (as opposed to for child support, etc)
Taxation of alimony varies on a state and local level. You can learn more about Virginia income taxes here .