Obtaining alimony can be a complex and difficult task after a divorce. Financial stability is the main concern for a person seeking alimony. Virginia law establishes a process for determining alimony, or spousal support, in divorce proceedings.
You may be worried about your future livelihood or feel overwhelmed by the legal process. The emotional challenges can build as a divorce case progresses. A contested divorce could mean confrontation with a former spouse. Even in an uncontested divorce, you might worry about an inequitable settlement. This stress can make the legal process seem even more daunting.
An experienced Norfolk spousal support attorney can offer legal advice, guidance, and legal representation through the complexities of an alimony case. The family law attorneys at Montagna Law have years of experience helping people in the Norfolk area deal with complicated alimony disputes. Our Norfolk divorce attorneys know that their understanding of Virginia law and commitment to clients are crucial to advocating for a fair settlement.
Spousal support, or alimony, is a payment that one spouse (the “payor”) makes to the other spouse (the “payee”):
The purpose of temporary support is often to help one spouse get to a point where they can support themself. For example, a spouse who stayed home during the marriage to support the family might need financial support for education or job training.
Permanent support is less common. It might be available to a spouse who will never be able to support themself because of issues like age, disability, or custody of a special-needs child.
The determination of spousal support may occur in two ways:
A judge must consider numerous factors when deciding whether to award spousal support and determining the amount. First, the judge must consider whether the divorce is fault-based or not. Virginia limits the availability of alimony to spouses who have committed adultery. Factors judges must consider also include:
Virginia law establishes a formula for determining the amount of child support, but not post-divorce spousal support. A judge has fairly wide discretion to determine the amount and duration of spousal support payments. An experienced Norfolk spousal support lawyer can help you determine the level of spousal support you need and argue your case in front of the judge.
The obligation to make support payments may end:
The payee must notify the payor if they remarry.
The answer depends on when the divorce occurred. Alimony used to be taxable under federal law. The payee paid federal income tax on the amount they received, and the payor could claim it as a deduction. This is still true for people who divorced in 2018 or earlier.
A law that took effect on January 1, 2019 changed this for divorces granted on or after that date. Payees who got divorced in 2019 or later do not pay taxes on spousal support payments, and payors may not deduct them.
Montagna Law is a Norfolk family law firm with years of experience representing the people of Virginia in a variety of practice areas. We provide client-focused legal services to family law clients in matters like divorce, child custody, and spousal support. Our law firm and our divorce lawyers have received numerous awards and recognition, including:
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The Virginia alimony lawyers at Montagna Law have years of experience representing people in divorces, spousal support disputes, and other family law matters in Norfolk. We will provide you with legal advice and representation that addresses your needs, whether you have an uncontested divorce, a contested divorce, or a post-divorce alimony case. Our law office handles cases across Hampton Roads, including Virginia Beach, Portsmouth, Newport News, Suffolk, and Chesapeake. Request a free consultation with a member of our office today by calling 877-622-8100 or completing our online contact form.
Yes, adultery is a fault-based ground for divorce that can also affect a court’s decision on spousal support. Virginia law states that the court cannot award permanent alimony to a spouse who committed adultery. The only way around this is if the spouse can prove that denying them permanent alimony would be a “manifest injustice.” They must prove this by “clear and convincing evidence,” which is a difficult burden of proof to meet.
It is still possible for a spouse to receive temporary alimony after adultery, but it will be a factor in the court’s decision. The judge may award no support or less support than the person might have received otherwise.
Virginia does not have a specific formula for calculating post-divorce spousal support. A judge might base support calculations on the difference between the two spouses’ incomes. They might look at their expenses and other financial obligations and set support at an amount that puts the two spouses in a similar financial position.
A judge can raise or lower the amount of spousal support based on various factors. Fault in the breakup of the marriage could be significant. Another common factor in calculating alimony involves one spouse’s contributions to the other spouse’s education and financial future, such as when one spouse supports the other spouse through medical school.
Your ability to modify an existing spousal support agreement will depend on the circumstances of the original spousal support order. A separation agreement or court order might limit the parties’ ability to modify the order. If the agreement or order does not limit modifications, there are two ways to modify a support order:
A court can only modify a support order if it finds the following:
The change is not something the parties could reasonably have expected at the time of the original order.
A court can order temporary spousal support for the spouse who earns less money. Known as pendente lite spousal support, this obligation only applies while the divorce proceeding is pending.
Virginia law provides a formula for calculating pendente lite spousal support in cases where the spouses’ combined gross monthly income (GMI) is no more than $10,000.
The court may change the amount of spousal support in a final divorce decree or eliminate it.
Jon Montagna received a Bachelor of Arts in Literature from American University in Washington D.C. and graduated Cum Laude from the University of Miami School of Law in 1999. Jon practices law in the Hampton Roads Virginia area.