What Is Alimony and How Is It Determined in VA?

Golden wedding rings on one hundred dollars bill background

If you’re considering separation or divorce, you may wonder whether you’re entitled to spousal support, especially if you’ve been the lower-earning spouse throughout your marriage. By the same token, if you’re the higher earner, you may ask whether you’ll have to pay alimony.

So, what is alimony, and how do Virginia family law courts determine spousal support payments? The divorce attorneys of DiPietro Law Group explain.

What Is Alimony?

Alimony, a.k.a. spousal support, refers to payments one spouse must pay the other spouse during and after divorce. Typically, the higher-earning spouse pays alimony to the lower earner to enable the latter to support themselves financially.

Virginia family law courts may award the following types of alimony:

  • Alimony pendente lite (pending the litigation). The dependent spouse may collect this short-term alimony during litigated divorce proceedings until a judge finalizes the divorce terms.
  • Rehabilitative alimony. Rehabilitative alimony aims to support the lower-earning spouse for a limited time while they gain education or professional skills that will enable them to reenter the workforce.
  • Permanent alimony. Permanent alimony payments only end when one spouse dies or the dependent spouse remarries. Older people after a lengthy marriage are the likeliest to collect permanent alimony in VA.

Can You Expect To Collect Alimony in a Virginia Divorce?

Not necessarily. When a family law court decides on awarding alimony, the judge may consider whether the support-seeking spouse has:

  • Enough assets, including marital assets, to support themselves within the standard of living they were used to during the marriage
  • Sufficient earning capacity to provide for themselves
  • Primary custody of minor children young enough so the parent may need to stay at home or work shorter hours to take care of them

Additionally, an abusive or cheating spouse may lose their right to support, even if they would otherwise qualify for alimony.

Calculating Spousal Support in Virginia

It’s best if the separating spouses outline the duration and amount of alimony payments in a mutually acceptable divorce agreement. Working with a skilled mediation lawyer can help you settle disagreements and avoid a costly, time-consuming, high-conflict, litigated divorce.

However, if the divorcing spouses cannot agree, a family law court may grant spousal support based on factors like:

  • Both parties’ financial resources and earning capacity
  • The length of the marriage
  • How much alimony the paying spouse may reasonably provide
  • Both spouses’ contributions to marital assets (including non-monetary contributions like household chores and childcare)

DiPietro Law Group, PLLC: Divorce and Alimony Lawyers in Fairfax, VA

Do you worry about how divorce may affect your standard of living? Solid planning and reliable legal help will help you transition to the next step of your life. The dedicated and experienced legal team of DiPietro Law Group will help you navigate all the financial aspects of divorce, from property division to alimony and child support.

Do you have questions besides “What is alimony?” To consult a Virginia divorce lawyer, contact us online or call our Fairfax, VA, office at (888) 530-4374.

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