Jonathan B. Vivona, PLC
Attorney at Law

601 King Street, Suite 400
Alexandria, VA 22314
(Entrance on St. Asaph St.)

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Support Payments to Dependent Spouse
Spousal support is awarded to lessen the financial impact that a divorce will have on the party who was financially dependent on his or her spouse during the marriage.  The amount that a spouse will receive in support depends on a variety of factors, but most are related to the economic condition of the parties with respect to one another.  A court will attempt to identify the financial resources of the parties, estimate their earning potential and determine the expenses each party will have after the marriage. 
Determining the Amount of Spousal Support
The amount of spousal support and the length of time support is provided is determined by looking at a series of factors which are provided in Virginia Code § 20-107.1.  These factors are the following:
  • income from pension, profit sharing or retirement plans;
  • standard of living established during the marriage;
  • duration of the marriage;
  • age and physical and mental condition of the parties and any special circumstances of any child that would make it appropriate that aparty not seek employment outside of the home;
  • contributions, monetary and nonmonetary, of each party to the well-being of the family;
  • equitable distribution of property in the divorce;
  • earning capacity of each party, including the skills, education and training of the parties and their present employment opportunities;
  • decisions regarding careers education and parenting arrangements made during the marriage and their effect on present and future earning potential;
  • the extent to which either party has contributed to the attainment ofeducation, training, career position or profession of the other party; and
  • tax consequences to each party.
The most important element with respect to spousal support is to prepare evidence and testimony on each of these issues.  An attorney can assist you in performing a thorough analysis of your financial records and your earnings potential going forward.  This way the other side will not be able to exaggerate their need for support, or on the other hand, their lack of ability to pay it. 
Temporary or Permanent Award of Support
The Judge can award temporary support, also known as "pendente lite" support when a couple has separated but has not yet finalized the divorce.  This will ensure that the spouses maintain a certain standard of living during the divorce process.  However, this award will be re-evaluated prior to the end of the case to determine the appropriate long term award.
The ultimate spousal support award in the case could be ordered to be paid in periodic payments or in a lump sum depending on the financial circumstances of the parties.  The court also has discretion to determine whether payments will be made for a set period of time or indefinitely.  The factors listed above will be considered not only in determining the amount of support, but also how it is provided.
Spousal support does not have to be awarded right when the divorce is granted. In these cases however, the parties can still reserve their right to seek spousal support in the future if circumstances change or there turns out to be an unexpected financial need.
Modification of Spousal Support Award
Spousal support awarded by the court is subject to modification in the future upon a change in the circumstances of either party. Thus, changes in support can occur even after a Final Decree of Divorce has been entered.   It is important to have an attorney represent you on spousal support modifications because these can significantly alter the amount previously awarded by the Court.
Even if the Court awards spousal support initially, a later ruling on motion by either of the parties can modify or terminate spousal support as the above factors change over time.  For example, if a spouse gets remarried or even cohabitates in a relationship without getting married, the Court may determine they no longer need support or that the other party is no longer capable of providing it.  If you have any additional questions on support, please contact our office to discuss them.
  Jonathan B. Vivona, PLC
  Attorney at Law

601 King Street, Suite 400
Alexandria, VA 22314

Tel: 703-739-1353

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