What are My Alimony Options in a Virginia Divorce?
The term alimony, or spousal support, is a general term for support that can be awarded when a couple is getting divorced. However, it can take multiple forms and be awarded on a temporary or more permanent basis. If you have questions about spousal support options in a divorce, we recommend speaking with a knowledgeable Virginia spousal support attorney who can explain what options may be available in your particular situation.
Alimony is one of the topics that can cause an amicable divorce to suddenly turn contentious. One spouse feels they are entitled to support from their former significant other, while the other spouse wants to pay as little as possible.
Permanent Spousal Support
Permanent alimony is not truly permanent in that you will receive it forever, however it can last the rest of your life if not sooner modified or terminated. There are some conditions that are attached to permanent spousal support that would cause the support to end. These include:
- Recipient ex-spouse remarries
- Either ex-spouse passes away
- Recipient ex-spouse lives with someone in a romantic relationship for a year or more (not a roommate situation)
Lump Sum Spousal Support
In some cases, there may be a lump sum alimony award. This can benefit both parties as the payment can help the recipient get on their feet quickly and the other party doesn’t have a monthly payment to deal with. Sometimes they may negotiate the payment down by doing the lump sum. For example, maybe the award is $75,000 over the term of the award but it can be negotiated to an up-front payment of $65,000 instead.
Periodic Spousal Support / Defined Duration Support
Alimony can be for a specified amount of time as well. A common amount is for half the length of marriage, especially for marriages that lasted less than 20 years. There is no set rule for half the marriage length, but that is a common amount some couples agree on. Periodic payments can be paid monthly or on whatever term you agree to (weekly, annually, etc.). The amount can remain the same or vary either up or down at some point.
Rehabilitative Spousal Support
Another option for spousal support is to set it up to help reach a specific goal. Perhaps one spouse didn’t finish college because they dropped out to get married. Now that the marriage is breaking up, the spouse wants to go back and finish, which can also increase their earning potential. Perhaps the spousal support award helps the recipient get back on their feet while allowing them to finish their college degree. This type of support is often the easiest to negotiate because the recipient is going back to school which will help him or her increase their earning potential and there would be less of a need for spousal support.
Retaining a Virginia Spousal Support Attorney
If you have questions on spousal support and/or need assistance negotiating an agreement with your ex, it’s important to speak with a knowledgeable Leesburg family law attorney as soon as possible. Spousal support agreements can be complex, and new tax changes in 2019 make the subject of alimony even more contentious. Contact the skilled attorneys at Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy PC today at 703-997-4982 to schedule a consultation.