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How Is Spousal Support Determined In A Divorce?

The disillusionment of a marriage may be an emotional strain and financial difficulties may only complicate the situation. Spouses living a once comfortable lifestyle may be overwhelmed by circumstances such as division of property, selling a home, and financial needs. Fortunately, spouses may seek monetary support from their partner to alleviate financial issues.

Virginia laws are designed “to promote fair and equitable results” when it comes to financial repercussions of divorce. Spousal support is one way financially dependent spouses may be compensated by their former partner to maintain the lifestyle they grew accustomed to.

Some of the main factors judges consider when awarding spousal support payments include the marriage’s length, age of the parties, earning capacity and education, contributions to the family’s wellbeing, and property holdings. Spouses maintaining custody of any children may also receive child support payments to cover the expense of raising the children.

Spouses may work out what, if any, support will be paid and over what amount of time. Should the two parties be unable to come to an agreement on the matter, judges may make the final determination. Whether you and your spouse are attempting to come to a consensus amongst each other or in a courtroom, the end result may be binding and not subject to renegotiation.

Types of spousal support

There are three types of spousal support payments in Virginia: lump sum, periodic for a defined duration, and periodic for an undefined duration. Courts have tremendous leeway when granting spousal support and may use any combination of the three to craft an appropriate award. Judges may even issue temporary spousal support awards before a divorce is finalized.

  • Lump sum spousal support payments: Judges may award a set amount spousal support which may be paid to the other spouse at one time or in installments.
  • Payments for a defined duration: Also known as “rehabilitative spousal support”, this type of award is meant to give spouses time to re-enter the workforce, seek higher education or better job skills, or otherwise become self-supportive. Payment amounts, schedules, and duration are expressly spelled out by the court.
  • Payments for an undefined duration: Sometimes called “open-ended” or “permanent” spousal support, these types of payments are typically given to more financially dependent spouses coming out of long-term marriages with limited earning capacity. Spouses receiving open-ended support payments may receive them until death or remarriage.

Family attorneys in Northern Virginia

If you are in the midst of a divorce, contact the experienced and compassionate family law attorneys of Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy, P.C. Our Northern Virginia attorneys regularly represent individuals in divorce proceedings and can help get you the spousal support payments you need.

Divorce may be a complicated time in one’s life, so let our law firm advocate for your best interest and handle the proceedings. Our attorneys have years of experience negotiating and crafting fair and just spousal support agreements for deserving spouses. Contact our family law attorneys for a consultation about your case.


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Leesburg, Virginia 20175

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Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy PC is located in Leesburg, VA and serves clients in and around Ashburn, Paeonian Springs, Hamilton, Sterling, Lincoln, Waterford, Leesburg, Purcellville, Lovettsville, Middleburg, Philomont, Round Hill, Arcola, Aldie, Dulles, Bluemont, Herndon, Haymarket, Reston, Great Falls, Clarke County, Fairfax County, Fairfax City County, Fauquier County, Loudoun County, Prince William County, Frederick County, Warren County, Winchester County, Arlington County.

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