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Virginia Alimony

To determine spousal support, the Virginia court looks at several factors listed in the Virginia Code Section 20-107.1, such as the duration of the marriage, the spouses’ standard of living, any financial obligations, the income earning capacity of both parties and the parties' age and physical condition.

During the divorce, a spouse can ask for alimony pendente lite, which is spousal support paid to one spouse while litigation is pending. When the couple asks the court to come to a decision, it uses the parties' incomes to determine the amount. The parties may need to submit proof of income and expenses. The parties can also agree on a spousal support amount and submit the written agreement to the court. The court reviews the agreement.

In some instances, Virginia courts can bar support, particularly if one spouse was unfaithful or deserted the other spouse. Virginia Code section 20-109 states that the court cannot alter a support amount as stated in a settlement agreement unless the agreement expressly states that it is modifiable. Therefore, when the parties agree to a spousal support amount in writing, and the court finds that the writing is valid and the terms clear and unambiguous, the support amount is firm unless a clause in the agreement allows the parties to seek modification.

Unless such a denial of support would be unjust, permanent alimony or spousal support is not be awarded to a spouse who is at fault in a divorce granted on the grounds of adultery.

The paying party may deduct support payments from federal taxes, and the recipient must claim such payments as income.

Types of Alimony

In Tennessee courts may order temporary, short- and long-term alimony. Temporary alimony is granted at the discretion of the court during the divorce proceedings and before the final decree. Short-term alimony may be granted to allow the receiving party time to gain necessary skills. Long-term, or permanent, maintenance may be granted to a spouse who has significant needs, and is usually reserved for lengthy marriages.

Factors Considered by the Court

In Virginia, alimony is discretionary. According to the Virginia Code - Title 20 - Sections: 20-95 and 10-107.1 and 20-108.1, when making a decision of whether or not support shall be awarded, how much, and for how long, the court considers:

  • the obligations, needs and financial resources of the parties.
  • the standard of living while together as a married couple;
  • the length of the marriage;
  • the age and health condition of the parties and any special circumstances of the family;
  • the extent to which the age, physical or mental condition or special circumstances of any child of the parties would make it appropriate that a party not seek employment outside of the home;
  • the contributions, monetary and non-monetary, of each party to the well-being of the family;
  • the property owned, and income potential of that property owned, by each party;
  • the property award;
  • the earning capacity and employment opportunities;
  • the opportunity for, ability of, and the time and costs involved for a party to acquire the appropriate education, training and employment to obtain the skills needed to enhance his or her earning ability;
  • the decisions regarding employment, career, economics, education and parenting arrangements made by the parties during the marriage and their effect on present and future earning potential, including the length of time one or both of the parties have been absent from the job market;
  • the extent to which either party has contributed to the attainment of education, training, career position or profession of the other party; and
  • the tax consequences to each party, as are necessary to consider the equities between the parties.

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