Switch to ADA Accessible Theme
Close Menu
  • John C. Whitbeck, Jr.


    John C. Whitbeck, Jr. practices in the following areas of law: Family Law, Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Visitation Rights, Adoptions, Spousal Support, Mediation, Arbitration, Relocation Cases, Domestic Violence, Criminal Law, DUI/DWI, Reckless Driving, All Felonies, All Misdemeanors, Juvenile Crimes, Mental Health Law, Civil and Business Litigation, Construction Litigation, Education Law, Election Law, Debt Collection, Consumer and Lemon Law.

    Learn More »
  • Ruth M. McElroy


    Ruth M. McElroy practices in the following areas of law: Family law, Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Visitation Rights, Adoptions, Spousal Support, Relocation Cases, Pre and Post Marital Agreements, Domestic Violence, Reckless Driving, DUI/DWI, Juvenile Crimes, Felony and Misdemeanor Crimes, Traffic Offenses, Debt Collection, Civil and Business Litigation. She serves the Virginia Court system as a Guardian ad litem.

    Learn More »
  • Jennifer D. Cisneros


    Jennifer D. Cisneros practices in the following areas of law: Family law, Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Visitation Rights, Adoptions, Spousal Support, Relocation Cases, Domestic Violence, Juvenile Crimes, Reckless Driving, DUI/DWI, Estate Planning, Wills and Probate, Trusts, Civil and Business Litigation and Debt Collection.

    Learn More »

How Do Virginia Courts Calculate Spousal Support? Guidelines and the ‘Pendente Lite’ Formula


When it comes to calculating alimony in the state of Virginia, many questions arise regarding how spousal support is determined and calculated after divorce.

Under Virginia law, spouses who have been married for a long period of time and have a significant gap in their incomes are entitled to monthly alimony payments. But how is the proper amount of spousal support determined?

Spousal Support Guidelines in Virginia

Virginia law has spousal support guidelines, a statewide formula for calculating a presumptive amount of alimony. In fact, there are also some local guidelines that are applicable in divorce cases, but many courts are free to ignore them completely.

The main purpose of those local guidelines was to establish the so-called “Pendente lite” spousal support, which is alimony to be paid until the divorce is finalized. Although these local alimony guidelines are not binding on circuit courts in Virginia, some courts consider these rules as a starting point in determining a proper spousal support amount.

So, if you are getting divorced in Leesburg, speak with a Leesburg alimony attorney to find out which local guidelines are applicable in our local courts. In some cases, courts may award lump sum spousal support (or, in other words, an alimony award made in one payment).

Pendente Lite Formula in Virginia Alimony Cases

Depending on the jurisdiction, spousal support is often determined based on the “Pendente lite” alimony calculation. Initially, the formula was used to quickly calculate spousal support in pre-trial situations without having to go through full-blown litigation on the issue of alimony.

With time, many courts across Virginia have adopted the Pendente lite formula to calculate the most accurate amount of spousal support payments. Under Virginia’s Pendente lite formula, the amount of spousal support is calculated as follows:

If there are minor children, an award of alimony should be the difference between 28% of the payor’s monthly gross income and 58% of the recipient’s gross monthly income. If there are no minor children, the formula is 30% of the payer’s gross monthly income to 50% of the recipient’s gross monthly income.  Note that this formula is not mandatory in every jurisdiction and you should consult with an attorney to see if it would apply in your area.

However, the Pendente lite formula does not take into account the new changes in the U.S. federal tax law since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 took effect. Therefore, if the Pendente lite calculation is used in your divorce case, you may want to consider how taxes might affect the alimony payments in your particular case.

When it comes to determining alimony in Virginia, there are many things to know about spousal support, including types of support, situations in which support is not awarded, and which factors terminate alimony payments, among others.

Speak with a Leesburg spousal support attorney from Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy, PC, to calculate the approximate amount of spousal support in your case. Call at 703-997-4982 today.


Facebook Twitter LinkedIn

© 2017 - 2020 Whitbeck, Cisneros, McElroy, P.C., Attorneys at Law. All rights reserved.
This law firm website is managed by MileMark Media.



Governor Northam’s Executive Order 53 provides that businesses that offer professional rather than retail services may remain open. Our firm is continuing to operate to ensure you and your family have advocates available for whatever legal issue you face. For clients who prefer, we can arrange meeting by Zoom or other video-conferencing. We are also implementing internal procedures to provide a safe environment in the office. Please contact us at 703-777-1795 or schedule an appointment today!