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How Virginia law helps to determine spousal support

Many Virginia residents who have gone through divorce have found it devastating emotionally and financially. It can be especially hard on a partner who has no regular income and has been otherwise financially dependent on a spouse. To provide financial support for these spouses as they begin again, state law has sanctioned the payment of spousal support by the spouse who can better afford it to the spouse who is economically challenged.

Before the era of no-fault divorce, if a spouse was determined to be at fault through something such as infidelity, that spouse could not demand spousal support. Fortunately, the law has changed and grounds that were previously regarded as fault are no longer given as much weight. Fault can still be assigned during spousal support hearings, however.

Spousal support is not awarded to penalize one partner but to provide financial support to the economically weaker spouse. The amount awarded depends on the unique circumstances of each case, including the age of the spouses, their assets, their earning capacities and the duration and history of their marriage.

A court can award spousal support as a lump sum or as periodic payments. It will normally set a schedule for installments as well as a period of payment, which can be indefinite. The amount awarded can be altered later, depending on changes in circumstance. The party who wants modification must apply to the court and explain the need for modification.

Spousal support does need have to be claimed at the time of the divorce. The right to seek spousal support is usually considered a period equal to one-half the length of the marriage.

Source:, "Divorce in Virginia," Accessed on March 17, 2015

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