lifetime alimony may feel like thisConsider stromatolites. They look like rocks, but stromatolites1 are the world’s oldest life forms. They date back 3.7 billion years, or roughly half the time you’ll be paying alimony.

… At least that is what it feels like when you are sending away a significant chunk of your paycheck week after week, month after month. Does permanent alimony ever end? Take heart! The stromatolites will outlast you and your alimony payments.

Lifetime Alimony: Taken for ‘Granite’

Stromatolites might look like rocks now, but they changed from what they were — algae. The point here is that your alimony may look like a lifelong burden now, but it will change. If you feel like you are being taken for granted in sending off a check every month, or every two weeks, or even every week, take heart, because the end will come.

First, alimony is a bit of a misnomer. Spousal support is the preferred Virginia term for sending money to your ex-wife. You do that as part of the equitable division of your assets. You divide liquid assets, and real and personal property. Usually the spouse earning more pays something to the spouse earning less.

Leaving Your ‘Lava’: Defining Spousal Support:

If at one time you both shared a thought that your love would last forever, that quickly has been replaced by the feeling that spousal support will last forever. A judge, your ex-wife’s lawyer and your lawyer worked out an agreement for you to pay your ex-wife some amount, probably monthly, so that she could continue living in a style to which they deemed you made her accustomed. These payments can be of “undefined” or “defined” duration.

So how can you stop lifetime spousal support?

Payments of undefined duration do have some conditions. They can go on until:

  • One of you dies (a cheery thought)
  • Your ex-wife remarries
  • The court gets “clear and convincing evidence that the spouse receiving support has been habitually cohabiting with another person in a relationship analogous to a marriage for one year or more … ” (as stated in Code of Virginia, § 20-109, A)
  • The court orders otherwise

Why would a court leave you writing out checks, possibly for decades? You divorced; neither you nor the court sentenced your ex-wife to destitution. If you were married a long time, or if your ex-wife has little chance of finding gainful employment, or if she has no chance of recovering the lifestyle you provided for her, you may be on the hook for the rest of one of your lives. The court presumes you owe her a comfortable life.

Spousal Support & Adultery: A ‘Boulder’ Move

You have one defense against spousal support of undefined duration. You can prove to the court’s satisfaction that your ex-wife is an adulterer; then (in most cases) she gets nothing.

adultery is a bold claim

This is a bolder move on your part, because you have to prove something in open court that is fairly repugnant to most people, and making a charge of adultery is tricky.

You and your lawyer must present concrete evidence in court to win an adultery charge, such as pictures, witness statements, or physical evidence. Unless your proof is rock solid, your lawyer may advise against this line of attack as a way to avoid spousal support.

Rehabilitative Spousal Support: Will It Hold Up in ‘Quartz’?

Rather than chip away at your ex-wife’s character, you and your attorney may try the opposite of an “undefined duration” support settlement. If you were married a short while, and your ex-wife is still able to work, she will probably leave court with a “defined duration” spousal support settlement. This is also called “rehabilitative spousal support,” because you are paying to get her to become self-sufficient.

Your monthly contributions may be helping her to finish a degree that will increase her income, or to get workforce training, or afford a reliable car. Court decrees for these payments will include:

  • The total amount you will pay
  • The amount of each payment
  • The interval of payments
  • The date of first payment

You may also have to pay a lump sum. At the time of the court ruling, you will know how much you will pay in all, though you may pay it in installments.

The Firm For Men: Stepping Stones

If you have no appetite for long, drawn-out spousal support payments, call The Firm for Men’s Virginia Beach office at 757-383-9184. When it comes to the men we serve, we have no trouble putting ex-wives between a rock and a hard place. We can walk you through the process of negotiating a fair spousal support settlement and be with you during negotiations and in court. You could shorten the time you spend paying spousal support before starting with a clean slate.


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