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How can I change a spousal support order?

On Behalf of | Jun 3, 2022 | Spousal Support |

Divorce is a challenging time for a family to have to go through, and the stresses are not just emotional but financial as well. Women who have supported the family by taking care of children and overseeing the household while their husbands were at work can feel particularly vulnerable at this time.

An award for spousal support in Virginia is usually based on a formula that considers:

  • How long the marriage lasted.
  • Each spouse’s income and earning capacity.
  • If one spouse took care of the children.
  • Evidence of adultery from the spouse seeking spousal support.

While each case is different, one common standard for calculating how long alimony will last is one year for every three years of marriage. However, circumstances can change for either party, and when this happens it is important to understand how to modify an existing order for spousal support.

What events could cause spousal support to terminate?

Under Virginia domestic relations laws, either party can petition the court to increase, decrease, or end spousal support. The courts can terminate spousal support if:

  • Either party passes away, unless there have been provisions in the spousal support order.
  • The spousal support payee remarries, in which case they must notify the ex-spouse.
  • The spousal support payee is cohabiting with another person for one year or longer, unless there were provisions in the maintenance agreement for this occurrence.

Spousal support may end as well if the payee reaches retirement age and is eligible for full retirement benefits.

Under what circumstances will the court modify a maintenance order?

When one party petitions the court to increase, decrease or terminate spousal support, the court will consider a modification if there has been a material change in circumstances, such as a job loss or increased income of either spouse. If an event should have occurred that did not in fact happen, this can also be a justification to change a support order.

Regarding retirement status, a modification may be necessary if retirement would result in a change in the income of either spouse, as well as the interest that has accrued from property or asset holding of either party. Either party is obligated to inform the other party of any change in status that could necessitate a modification.


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