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Spousal support in Virginia

In the event a couple in Virginia gets divorced, spousal support may either be awarded by a judge in a court order or agreed to by the parties. The theory behind ordered spousal support is to remove unfair financial impediments one spouse may have due to his or her unemployment or underemployment, allowing the recipient an allotted amount of time to seek job training or obtain employment in order to adequately provide for his or her own support.

The idea of alimony was intended initially to provide for stay-at-home wives who had dedicated significant time to raising children and taking care of the home. As the economy has changed, with more and more women in the workforce, it is no longer uncommon for spousal support to be awarded to a husband with the wife making payments.

In determining whether to award requested spousal support, courts normally take into account several factors. Such things as the length of the marriage, the employability of the spouse seeking the alimony award, the requesting party's current ability to provide for him or herself independently and the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage are all important. Of course, the relative incomes of the spouses is also an important consideration.

Unlike child support, the amount of spousal support is in some states not subject to strict statutory guidelines. As such, issued spousal support orders may vary widely. Determination of spousal support is often quite fact- and case-specific. People who either wish to seek spousal support from their spouse or who believe alimony may be an issue in their divorce may want to speak with a family law attorney who may be able to provide more information regarding what the client may expect. The attorney may also be able to negotiate an agreement covering this matter rather than having it be determined by the court.

Source: Findlaw, "Spousal Support (Alimony) Basics", December 29, 2014

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