Married partners have a duty to each other to be financially responsible for the other spouse until they're divorced. In some cases, one spouse may have to continue the financial obligation to the other in the form of payments of spousal support or alimony after a marriage has ended.
In Virginia, the law dictates that spousal support is awarded only when it's necessary. Generally, courts have awarded support in marriages that are long-term, where the spouses had a large gap in income, or where a spouse has a disability or doesn't have a job.
Explanation of Virginia Spousal Support and Alimony Laws
Nothing can replace consulting with an attorney to understand the information contained in statutes. However, you can learn a lot about the law by reading a plain language version of the content. See the chart below for a basic explanation of spousal support and alimony laws in Virginia.
Virginia Code Title 20:
- Section 20-107.1(maintenance and support of spouses)
- Section 20-108.1(determination of child or spousal support)
- Section 20-109 (changing maintenance and support for a spouse; cessation on cohabitation, remarriage, death)
- Section 20-110 (maintenance and support for a spouse to cease on remarriage)
Eligibility for support
In Virginia, the court allows spousal support to be awarded to a spouse only when it's necessary.
When deciding whether to award support to a spouse, the court considers the factors and circumstances that contributed to the dissolution of the marriage, including grounds such as adultery. If the spouse seeking support has committed adultery, then they will not be awarded support.
Factors that determine amount and duration of support
The court will determine the nature, amount, and duration of support using factors, including but not limited to the following:
- The incomes and financial needs of both parties;
- Age and mental and physical conditions of the parties;
- Standard of living established during the marriage;
- The duration of the marriage;
- The contribution of one spouse to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other spouse;
- Extent to which age, condition of special circumstances of any child of the spouses would make it appropriate for one spouse to stay home; and
- Property interests of the parties.
Method of Payment
Alimony can be paid either as a lump sum payment or as periodic payments.
Payments can be set for a specific number of years of for an unspecified duration. The support ends automatically upon death of either spouse or if the spouse receiving support remarries or cohabitates in a marriage-like manner.
Either party can petition to modify the maintenance and support to increase, decrease, or terminate when there's a change in circumstances.
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Virginia Spousal Support and Alimony Laws: Related Resources
Discuss Alimony Issues with a Virginia Attorney
If you need more information about how alimony laws impact your divorce case, then you should get legal help. Voice your concerns with an experienced divorce attorney located near you to learn more about your rights and options.