A gathering of geese is a gaggle, and a gaggle of geese can mean both geese and ganders, because — though all geese (females) are geese, some geese are not geese (females) but ganders (males). And, as we all know, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. In Virginia divorce, this is also true. If your wife earns more than you, so you are financially dependent on her, you can get spousal support, or alimony, as part of the divorce.
How is Alimony Awarded in Virginia?
Spousal support is not a reward, it is an award. In Virginia, spousal support can be awarded under Code of Virginia § 20-107.1 in these ways:
- Once in a lump sum
- For periodic payments of a defined duration
- For periodic payments of an undefined duration
- For any combination of these
Its purpose, according to Virginia law, is to ease the transition of the divorced, dependent spouse into independent living.
If your wife out-earned you throughout the years of your marriage, her income largely helped create the marital household. You feathered your nest (yes, it’s going to be a lot of bird-brained humor in this one) mostly with her help, and became comfortable with that level of living.
Upon your divorce, your attorney can make a convincing case that you, not she, should get spousal support (colloquially called alimony but not referred to as that in Virginia Code) so that you can go on enjoying the same level of comfort, at least for a while.
Maintaining the Status Quo
You certainly cannot be accused of ducking your responsibilities if you ask the court for spousal support, even if your ex-wife files a counter motion to ask it of you. Just have your attorney present actual documentation to show that your ex-wife paid a larger share of household expenses, child-rearing costs, and amenities to make both your lives more comfortable.
After divorce, you have a right under Code of Virginia to maintain that life, to avoid psychological damage. Rather than getting down in the dumps, then, you can use the spousal support to provide a soft downy mattress for the inevitable hard landing of divorce.
Can I Get Spousal Support If I Already Get Child Support?
You may have thought, with your decreased income after divorce, that you would be winging it from paycheck to paycheck, especially if you have added expenses for children. Though a common misconception, your ability to get spousal support is not bound up with child support. They are two separate issues, and are treated by the Virginia courts as such.
You can petition the court for spousal support if you can show you earned less and still earn less than your spouse. The judge will examine many factors as stipulated in Code of Virginia § 20-107.1, such as:
- The earning capacity, including the skills, education and training of the parties and the present employment opportunities for persons possessing such earning capacity;
- The opportunity for, ability of, and the time and costs involved for a party to acquire the appropriate education, training and employment to obtain the skills needed to enhance his or her earning ability;
- The decisions regarding employment, career, economics, education and parenting arrangements made by the parties during the marriage and their effect on present and future earning potential, including the length of time one or both of the parties have been absent from the job market
You need not have been a stay-at-home Dad during your marriage to qualify for spousal support, if you sacrificed your own career advancement for her career or for your children’s benefit. Spousal support can pay, for example, for you to be trained or educated in a higher-earning job after divorce, with the court compelling your ex-wife to pay for it.
The Fudge Factors
Virginia courts also have a small fudge factor in that same section of Virginia Code:
Such other factors, including the tax consequences to each party and the circumstances and factors that contributed to the dissolution, specifically including any ground for divorce, as are necessary to consider the equities between the parties.
You, earning less than your ex-wife and unable to rely on her additional income to keep you paddling contentedly around your pond, may have dreaded the prospect of renting a dingy, single-room apartment with one bare bulb hanging from the ceiling and mysterious, yellowing stains on the walls.
Thanks to Virginia Code, you could end up feeling just ducky because your family law attorney could make a strong case that your wife created conditions — using fowl language or making you feel henpecked — that made your relationship inequitable and the divorce inevitable.
We are Spousal Support Lawyers for Men Only!
Spousal support is based on financial need and economic justice, not gender. Your attorney can show that only a strong program of spousal support will make the divorce and your life after divorce equitable.
With a call to 757-383-9184 at The Firm For Men, you can get substantive answers to your alimony questions, concerns about finances and divorce, and more. Our family law attorneys know Virginia precedents, laws and regulations. We can defend your rights as a Virginia man and help you collect spousal support without feeling hawkward.