Spousal Support in Virginia
Spousal support, often called alimony, is meant to compensate the non-earning spouse who supported the spouse who had a career and earned regular income during the marriage. Where there are significant differences in earning ability, spousal support may be a remedy. The spouses can agree to an amount of spousal support and make it part of their overall agreement. When they can’t agree, a court will determine if support is justified and, if so, in what amount and for what duration.
If you helped your spouse start and keep his/her career, don’t be afraid to demand that you be able to support yourself too. If you think your spouse is able to earn a living, don’t be afraid to say so. The Law Office of Afsana Chowdhury works to make sure spousal support is paid fairly, during litigation and after the divorce is final. The firm knows the difficulty of starting or renewing a career and how helping the non-earning spouse earn a living also helps the earning spouse. When both spouses can earn a living and support themselves, it’s easier to take care of children and lead independent lives.
Spousal Support while the Case is Pending
Because spouses often need support during the time the divorce and other issues are being resolved, Virginia has a temporary procedure called a pendente lite hearing that allows a spouse to immediately request support during the waiting period and the litigation period of the divorce. At a hearing that will take place shortly after the proper paperwork is filed, a Virginia judge will review the issues and make a temporary ruling on spousal support. Temporary orders also prevent one spouse from forcing the spouse who can’t afford to pay the bills to make an unfair settlement because they need the money.
Two Main Types of Virginia Spousal Support
There are two main categories of spousal support in Virginia: rehabilitative and permanent. Rehabilitative support aims to help one spouse earn an income. Permanent support is usually for longer marriages where it may be difficult for the non-career spouse to start over.
Rehabilitative Support: This type of support protects the one spouse who may have medical needs or may need time, education or training to be able to get back into the workforce. For example, if one spouse stays home to raise the family while the other works – then the stay-at-home parent may need help to be able to earn an income. Because the aim of this type of support is to help a spouse rehabilitate themselves, it is typically reserved for spouses who have been married less than 20 years.
Permanent support: This type of support is usually reserved for long term marriages. If a spouse has unique health problems, it may be awarded in a shorter length marriage. It is permanent in the sense that it usually ends on some specific event such as the death of a spouse or because the spouse getting alimony remarries or begins to live or cohabit with someone else.
Changes to the Spousal Support Order
Support orders can be subject to change or being ended. Some of the changes that can warrant a modification are if there is a change in the financial status of either spouse, a spouse dies, a spouse remarries or health complications. The change is not automatic. Any spouse seeking a change must properly ask the court to modify or vacate the order and prove that the change is substantial.
Contact Our Northern Virginia Law Office
Spousal support awards often vary from judge to judge and county to county because different judges have different perspectives on whether rehabilitation is justified, how much support is needed and how much of a factor the length of the marriage should be in determining support. Often a fair equitable distribution settlement can help ease the need for spousal support. Our firm will work to make sure your financial situation is properly determined, the need for support is clear and that any order is just.
Contact the Law Office of Afsana Chowdhury at 703-271-6519 for an initial phone consultation, schedule a consultation online or make an appointment. We will take the time to answer your questions and will begin immediately to review your case and file the right papers to protect your claims.