Alimony, also known as spousal support in Virginia, is financial support that one ex-spouse receives from another after a divorce. Either spouse can request alimony. In some cases, a divorcing couple may be able to agree on the length and amount of alimony to be paid. If so, they can include this information in their signed separation agreement. If the couple cannot agree on spousal support, then a court will have to decide for them.
Spousal support is not intended to punish the spouse who pays it. Rather, it is intended to prevent financial hardship after a divorce. Below, we’ll discuss how long alimony payments can last and the variables that courts consider when ordering spousal support.
Marriage Length and Alimony
There are numerous factors the court might consider when determining the amount payable as alimony, but one of the most important is the duration of the marriage. In some marriages, one spouse may have been financially dependent on the other for years preceding the divorce. If the financially dependent spouse has not held a job for many years, they may have a difficult time securing employment and could be at high risk of financial hardship after the divorce.
However, even if the marriage was short, the income disparity between the two divorcing spouses could be significant. In that case, alimony could help financially support the spouse who brings in less income each month. Regardless of the length of your marriage, an attorney can help you determine the appropriate amount of spousal support you should request (or be willing to pay if you are the payor).
Other Factors Affecting Alimony Duration
Aside from the duration of the marriage, some other factors the court will likely consider when ordering spousal support include:
- Financial resources of each spouse, from personal bank accounts to IRAs
- Financial responsibilities and needs of each spouse
- The amount of income each spouse contributed to the family during the marriage
- The couple’s standard of living while married
- The age of each spouse
- The physical and mental condition of each spouse
- The need for one of the parties to remain at home with a child due to the child’s age, physical state, or mental condition
- The division of marital property
- The earning potential of each spouse
- The amount of time needed for a spouse to acquire the proper training or education to re-enter the workforce or enhance their earning potential
- The ability of the payor to maintain their usual standard of living while paying spousal support
This is not an exhaustive list, and there are other factors or special circumstances that the court might consider when making a decision regarding spousal support. Depending on your specific situation, the court might order temporary or permanent spousal support payments. The court may also allow alimony to be paid all at once or in installments.
Either of the spouses could also reserve the right to collect alimony in the future by filing a request with the court. If the court approves the request, the payee, or the spouse with the right to receive alimony, will have the right to request spousal support for up to half of the amount of time the marriage lasted. For example, if the marriage lasted twenty years, the payee would have the right to collect spousal support for up to ten years.
Contact Us Today
Although some couples are able to come to an agreement about spousal support, determining alimony can be a contentious process, particularly if a divorce is not amicable. That’s why it is vital to hire a Glen Allen, VA divorce lawyer from Taylor, Taylor & Taylor, Inc. to guide you through the legal process and protect your rights. Contact us at 804-266-9619 for a confidential consultation.