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Because marriages sometimes involve one party making more money or having more assets than the other, a divorce can result in a significant change in the standard of living for the lesser-earning party. In order to make up for this gap in earning capacity, state law allows a court to compel the payment of spousal support—also known as alimony—between two former spouses.

While there are numerous guidelines for how spousal support obligations should be determined, it can be hard for any individual to navigate these rules efficiently without help from an experienced family attorney. By retaining a Richmond spousal support lawyer, you may have a much easier time pursuing a support agreement that serves your best interests.

How Alimony Is Determined in Richmond

Alimony is granted on a case-by-case basis due to a number of different factors, some of which may be more important than others depending on the circumstances. For example, if someone files for a divorce based on adultery committed by the other party, the adulterous spouse is generally barred from receiving support, subject to a few exceptions. A local alimony attorney could clarify whether spousal support is justifiable in a particular situation.

Other things a court may take into consideration when deciding to establish a support order, as per Virginia Code §20-107.1(E), include:

  • The age of both parties
  • The physical and mental capabilities of both parties
  • How much each party makes in income per month, as well as any unique financial needs they have
  • Whether one party would need to stay home to support an underage child
  • Whether one party made significant financial contributions to the other’s education or occupational training

How Long Does Alimony Last?

One of the most important factors that can influence alimony obligations is how long a marriage lasted before it was dissolved. As a very rough rule of thumb, a person is often ordered to pay spousal support to a former partner for half the length of the marriage. However, this formula does not apply in all situations and, indeed, in some circumstances a spouse may have to pay alimony for life.

For example, if a marriage lasts longer than 20 years, or if the lesser-earning party in a divorce would not realistically be able to reach the same standard of living they had while married, even with additional job retraining, a court may elect to issue a permanent support order. A seasoned spousal maintenance lawyer in Richmond could help an individual pursue or contest this order.

Modifying Spousal Support Obligations

Whether they have specific termination dates or an unspecified duration, spousal support obligations will end if the recipient remarries or if either party passes away. Outside of those scenarios, both the provider and recipient of spousal maintenance can petition to have their original order modified if a significant personal change warrants the adjustment.

If the party responsible for paying alimony is laid off from their job and can no longer fulfill their obligations under the old order, they could seek to have those obligations adjusted in light of their new financial circumstances. Conversely, if a person receiving support suffers a serious injury or illness with long-term or permanent effects, they may be able to ask for more support from their former spouse in order to maintain their standard of living.

Learn More from a Richmond Spousal Support Attorney

When two people separate after years of marriage, their individual finances often look different than it was when they were a couple. Accordingly, court orders for one party to provide financial support to the other are common in many divorces.

If you fail to retain qualified legal counsel prior to your divorce being processed, you may find yourself at a significant disadvantage during alimony negotiations. To ensure your rights are respected and your needs are met, consider placing a call to an experienced Richmond spousal support lawyer.

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