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 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.

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!