Spousal Support beharris
Frequently Asked Questions about Alimony and Spousal Support
How much do I have to pay in alimony?
In Virginia, we call “alimony”, “spousal support”. The vast majority of times, the spousal support awards require the husband to pay support to his former wife, if the husband has a higher income than his wife. However, if the wife has a higher income than the husband, she may not be entitled to support. If the husband makes Iess than his wife, it is very rare for a husband to get support in Virginia, except under extenuating circumstances. In sum, the facts of the case play a major role in what, if any, spousal support is awarded. For example, the court must consider the following factors in determining whether to award spousal support and if so, how much:
The earning capacity, obligations, needs and financial resources of the parties, plans of whatever nature
The education and training of the parties and the ability and opportunity of the parties to secure such education and training; you cannot later have the determination of paternity set aside. Never acknowledge paternity unless you are certain you are the father
The standard of living established during the marriage
The duration of the marriage
The age and physical and mental condition of the parties
The contributions, monetary and non-monetary, of each party to the well being of the family
The property interest of the parties, both real and personal, tangible and intangible
Provisions made with regard to the marital property under Virginia’s Equitable Distribution Statute
Such other factors including the tax consequences to each party, as are necessary to consider the equities between the parties
The bottom line is that spousal support can be highly unpredictable. Unlike child support, which is formula driven, if you give me three different judges, hearing the same evidence, I will give you three different spousal support results with that same evidence. This lack of certainty is a strong incentive to resolve the question of spousal support by agreement, but It is very much fact sensitive to your case.
Note, however, that Spousal Support Guidelines which are used in Juvenile Court are oftentimes presented to a judge or mediator to consider in the divorce process, and most judges consider these Guidelines, even in a divorce.
Can I modify a spousal support award after divorce?
Sometimes, yes. Sometimes, no. It depends on what you put in your Separation Agreement. So, anyone considering entering into a Spousal Support Agreement, must consult an attorney. If not, the consequences can be financially devastating.
What jurisdiction is the jurisdiction for modification of spousal or child support?
The power to modify spousal support usually stays where the divorce is granted. The Virginia Code does not allow the court to transfer jurisdiction to another state and neither does the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, which many states have adopted. This can be very inconvenient for a party who has moved from the state, as they would have to return to the state where the divorce was granted to have the spousal support amount modified. However, the enforcement of support can be done in any state. The usual procedure is to register the Final Order or Decree of Divorce in the paying spouse’s state by filing certified copies with the local court. The court then takes the necessary action to domesticate the Order and have the support withheld from pay and/or holding the delinquent party in contempt.
Payment can also be enforced by the state granting the divorce. The court can order wage withholding and hold a delinquent party in contempt. It is more cost effective to do the enforcement in the state where the paying spouse lives and works, however, as the local Sheriff can go to their house and arrest them, if need be. The Sheriff from the state where the divorce was granted has no jurisdiction to cross the state line. An extradition for support or delinquency is virtually unheard of.
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