When a married couple divorces in the Commonwealth of Virginia, the amount of alimony is determined either by mutual agreement between the spouses or by a judge. Spousal support may begin before the divorce is finalized, while the couple is legally separated.
Alimony can be paid in a lump sum, in periodic payments for a set number of years, or for an unspecified duration. The only circumstance under which spousal support can be denied is if the spouse seeking support has committed adultery.
Some of the factors the court takes into consideration for calculating alimony are the couple’s obligations, needs and financial resources; the standard of living established during the marriage; the duration of the marriage; age and physical and mental condition of the spouses; the monetary and nonmonetary contributions of each spouse to the household; special needs of any child of the spouses; whether or not either spouse contributed to the other’s education or career training; and each spouse’s earning capacity. If a judge sets the alimony amount, either spouse may come back to court later and request an increase or decrease. However, if the amount is determined by the spouses and included in their property settlement agreement, the alimony amount cannot be modified.