Alimony, which is referred to as spousal support in Virginia, is a payment one spouse pays to the other as part of their divorce proceedings. This payment is intended to prevent financial hardship from befalling the spouse receiving support. While it’s less common for husbands to receive spousal support from wives, eligibility for alimony doesn’t depend on gender. Virginia divorce laws allow either spouse to request support from the other with the goal of promoting fair and equitable results.
The amount awarded for spousal support varies from case to case and there isn’t a statewide formula that determines this amount in Virginia. Sometimes couples agree on spousal support and other financial issues themselves; otherwise, the court intervenes and grants support based on several factors. If you pursue spousal support in your divorce, the court first determines your eligibility, then the amount and duration of the support.
Eligibility for Spousal Support
When you request spousal support as part of your divorce settlement, the court first determines if you’re barred from receiving support for any reason. You may be ineligible for support if your wife filed for divorce because you were unfaithful and there’s proof of adultery. The same could be true of other bad conduct, such as cruelty or criminal activity.
There are some exceptions, though. The court may look at the respective degrees of contributing fault that lead to the marriage’s failure and the financial circumstances of both parties, then decide to award spousal support despite one party being guilty of marital misconduct. If there’s convincing evidence that not granting support is unjust, then spousal support is still a possibility.
Awarding or denying spousal support isn’t intended to be punishment towards either spouse, no matter the circumstances in fault-based divorces. If you were married for a substantial amount of time and there’s a significant gap between both of your incomes, financial issues are looked at closely and weighed against all the reasons the marriage failed.
If you’re not barred from receiving spousal support, the court then considers numerous factors to determine the nature, amount and duration of your spousal support award.
Factors for Amount and Duration of Spousal Support
Creating an approximately equal standard of living between you and your wife post-divorce is the primary purpose of spousal support. There are many factors involved, which include both parties’ income levels and their individual financial needs. How long you were married and the standard of living established during the marriage are also taken into account. Other factors the court might consider when determining how much your support should be, how long you receive it, and how often you receive it, include:
- The obligations, needs, and financial resources of both spouses
- Working to put your spouse through school at the expense of your own education
- The age, physical, and mental condition of both spouses
- Special needs or age of custodial children that cause you to not seek employment outside the home
- Both spouses’ earning capacity, which includes education, training, and skills
- Your opportunity or ability to acquire appropriate education, training, skills, and employment to better your earning potential
- How marital property has been divided
- Tax consequences or other factors that affect the equitability of spousal support
Once these and other factors are considered, the court determines the amount, frequency, and duration of your spousal support payments.
Types of Spousal Support
In Virginia, there are three basic types of spousal support awarded:
- Periodic payments for a defined duration
- Periodic payments for an undefined duration
- A lump sum payment
Court-ordered payments are most often made in monthly installments (periodic payments). These payments might be on a temporary (defined) basis or permanent (undefined) basis. Sometimes spousal support is granted in one lump sum payable at the time of divorce and once you receive this court-ordered amount, you wouldn’t receive any periodic payments (unless you’re awarded a combination of periodic and lump sum awards).
Duration of Spousal Support Payments
The total length of time you receive your spousal support could be granted for a defined duration, often referred to as temporary rehabilitative alimony, or an undefined duration or permanent alimony that lasts until the death (of you or your spouse), remarriage, or proven cohabitation.
Prior to 1998, courts weren’t allowed to award support for a specified amount of time; alimony was always awarded permanently. Now, if you’re awarded rehabilitative alimony, you’ll receive support for a short-term based on the amount of time you need to acquire the needed skills to enable you to be more competitive in the job market. Permanent alimony is often only awarded if you’re unable to work due to your age or a physical or mental handicap.
Get the Help You Need: Hire a Top Spousal Support Attorney
There are many factors for specifying a dollar amount for spousal support, but men can get alimony in Virginia. Besides post-divorce spousal support, you may also qualify for Pendente Lite spousal support, which is temporary support awarded during divorce litigation.
The Firm For Men can assist men with the financial consequences of the dissolution of their marriage. We’re familiar with the factors considered by courts in establishing spousal support and fight to protect men from paying unjustifiable alimony or not receiving alimony when they’re entitled. We proudly serve all of Hampton Roads, from Virginia Beach and Norfolk to Chesapeake, Portsmouth, and beyond. Call us today at 757-383-9184 or contact us online to request a consultation.