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Virginia spousal support and factors that determine an award

On Behalf of | Mar 1, 2024 | Spousal Support |

Marriage not only unites the couple legally, but it also combines their home, property and finances. While it might not be split evenly, each spouse has obligations to the other during their union. A divorce severs their union; however, it does not immediately end the financial obligations. Because a lifestyle was created in the marriage, it is often desired to maintain that lifestyle even after divorce. Spousal support is not automatic in divorce proceedings; however, it is something a spouse could request.

Virginia spousal support laws

In the state of Virginia, spousal support will only be awarded if it is deemed necessary. Often, necessary is associated with long-term marriages where there is a large income gap between the spouses or when one spouse is unemployed or suffers from a disability.

Beyond necessity, the spouse must also be eligible to request and receive spousal support. In Virginia, the court will consider certain factors and the circumstances that contributed to the dissolution of the marriage. For an example, if adultery contributed to the divorce, the spouse that committed adultery is not eligible for an award of spousal support.

Factors considered when awarding spousal support

If it is established that spousal support is necessary, the court will consider various factors when determining how it will be paid, the amount paid and the duration of support. While the factors involved in this decision can be extensive, there are common factors that are used in this decision making.

These common factors include the incomes and financial needs of both spouses, the age and mental and physical conditions of each spouse, the standard of living established during the marriage, the duration of the marriage, the contributions one spouse made for the education, training and increased earnings of the other spouse, the factors that led to one spouse staying at home as a caregiver or homemaker and any property interests of the spouses.

Based on these and other factors, the court can establish if spousal support will be paid as a lump sum payment or periodic payments along with the amount to be paid. Additionally, when periodic payments are set, this could be established for a set number of years or for an unspecified duration.

When spousal support is awarded, it is important to understand it isn’t set in stone. Either spouse has the right to seek modification to increase, decrease or terminate the payments. Thus, it is important that you are aware of your rights and the circumstances that could allow for modifications to be sought.


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