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Review of Virginia’s spousal maintenance statute

| Nov 3, 2020 | Spousal Support |

Like most other states, Virginia allows spouses who are divorcing to receive maintenance payments from the other spouse. Maintenance is also frequently called spousal support and alimony.

In Virginia, maintenance can be awarded to a spouse in most circumstances. However, there are some situations, including adultery, in which one spouse can claim that he or she is exempt from a maintenance order.

Courts have wide discretion when considering spousal support

Assuming the person asking for it is eligible, courts have a lot of discretion, or, leeway in judgment, when it comes to awarding spousal maintenance.

When deciding whether to award spousal maintenance or how much to award, the court must consider a number of factors.

Some of these factors include how long the marriage of the couple lasted and what each spouse has in the way of income, earning potential and available resources.

The court will also consider the standard of living the couple maintained while married, as the purpose of alimony is to allow a spouse to maintain his or her standard of living after marriage and not to make financial gain.

After considering these factors, courts have a number of options. The judge can order one spouse to make one lump sum payment to the other spouse or can order indefinite payments or payments for a certain length of time.

In some cases, courts may also elect to reserve a person’s right to receive alimony at a later date, even if the court makes no award immediately.

Wide discretion means litigation over support is possible

Because the courts of Northern Virginia have a lot of leeway when it comes to awarding spousal maintenance, someone going through a divorce will want to be sure that they understand their legal options and have their cases in order.