Virginia Family Law
A Blog by Jason A Weis, Esq.
Virginia & Maryland Family Law Attorney

Virginia Family Law – Frequently Asked Questions: Spousal Support (Alimony)


Pretty woman1 150x150 Virginia Family Law   Frequently Asked Questions: Spousal Support (Alimony)Continuing in the series of frequently asked questions…

How can I get spousal support and how long can I receive payment?  

There are no hard and fast guidelines for determining either the amount or duration of spousal support in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  Certain jurisdictions such as Fairfax County publish temporary (pendente lite) spousal support guidelines, which may be used to calculate support pending a formal, final support hearing.  The touchstone consideration for determining whether and how much spousal support may be required is one spouse’s financial need balanced against the other’s ability to pay.  If the divorce will leave one spouse with very little income and the other with sufficient income to contribute support, generally the court will award support. In the classic case, spousal support is awarded to a homemaker who has put his/her career on hold for the benefit of the family and paid by the wage-earning spouse who has worked during the marriage and enjoyed the benefit of a steadily increasing income.  In short-term marriages of say less than ten (10) years, that assistance may continue for a period equal to one-half the duration of the marriage.  That period is loosely calculated to enable the recipient spouse to further his/her education, receive job training and
reestablish him/herself in the workforce. For longer term marriages of say fifteen (15) years or more, such rehabilitation may not be possible and support may continue indefinitely.  No two parties’ circumstances are the same and thus support amounts and durations tend to vary.

What factors will the court consider when setting the permanent spousal support?

The following are some of the factors the court will consider in order spousal support:

  • The earning capacity of each party, including their education, skills and work experience;
  • The standard of living established during the marriage;
  • The supporting party’s ability to pay;
  • The parties’ respective contributions to the marriage;
  • The needs of each party including the minor children;
  • The duration of the marriage; and
  • The tax consequences to the parties.

May I accept spousal support in a lump sum payment instead of a monthly payment?

Yes, you are free to accept spousal support in nearly any form you wish. Though accepting regular monthly payments for a specific duration is most common, spouses can agree to one-time, lump sum payments, transfers of assets or payment of certain expenses in lieu of “regular” support.  The parties may also agree that the support amount either increase or decrease over time to account for the recipient spouse’s financial needs.

Jason A. Weis, Esquire – Curran|Moher P.C. – jweis@curranmoher.com – 3554 Chain Bridge Road, Suite 100, Fairfax, VA 22030 – 571-328-5020

Virginia Family Law: Money May Buy You Happiness


Does your happiness have a price tag? It depends on how you define “happy,” says USA Today. Princeton economists recently analyzed the results of a Gallup poll that surveyed 450,000 Americans about their “happiness.” They measured it in two ways: their emotional well-being, as reflected in how much laughter, joy and relaxation they experienced in their day-to-day lives; and their overall life satisfaction, as reflected in how they felt about their jobs, homes, families and statuses. Not surprisingly, the economists found that concerns about money interfered with contentment; both types of happiness rose with income.

Interestingly, they also found that emotional well-being peaked at an annual income of about $75,000 – the point at which most people felt they had enough money to purchase their basic needs. As income levels rose beyond that point, people reported a higher level of over-all life satisfaction, but also a higher level of general concern. For example, going from a job that pays $75,000 to, say, $200,000 created what researchers termed “negative effects” – more responsibility, more pressure to perform and more stress. Thus, in a larger sense, the study found that money does not just buy happiness; money buys more worry, anxiety, and aggravation.

Money concerns permeate every divorce in Northern Virginia and families at all income levels shutter at the thought of budgeting their family’s monthly income for not one household, but for two. An award of spousal support can help ease that transition, but it is unrealistic to believe such an award will allow you to carry on financially as if nothing has changed. In Virginia, spouses entitled to support have the right to be maintained in the manner to which they were accustomed during the marriage, but their needs must be balanced against the other spouse’s financial ability to pay. The balance between “life style” and “financial ability” is difficult to strike. This is particularly true for many Northern Virginia families who earn six-figure incomes, but enjoy six-figure-plus lifestyles. Because Virginia’s spousal support statute requires a court to consider no less than 12 separate factors, spousal support awards are often widely divergent. This makes spousal support particularly well-suited for negotiation and, when necessary, zealous advocacy. If you have questions about spousal support, please feel free to drop me a line.

















About

My experience and background reflect the hallmarks of success one must demand of a lawyer in Northern Virginia's legal landscape.  As a native of this area, I have here focused my practice on providing sound and balanced representation to clients navigating the difficult legal waters of family law, including contested divorce, custody, visitation, spousal and child support, and equitable distribution.  More >>>

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Jason A. Weis, Esquire
Curran Moher Weis
10300 Eaton Place, Suite 520
Fairfax, Virginia 22030

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Phone: (571) 328-5020

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Legal Disclaimer

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog. I hope you find the information here as enjoyable to read as I find to write. Please note that reading this blog does not create a legal relationship between you and Jason A. Weis, Esquire or any other attorney associated with familylawva.com. Moreover, all postings on this blog are merely attorneys' commentary on the state of family law in the Commonwealth of Virginia. THE POSTINGS ARE NOT LEGAL ADVICE – if you have a legal issue or question, I strongly encourage you to contact a lawyer. I would be pleased to refer you to someone if I am able.