Alimony is a court-ordered payment made from one spouse to another following a divorce. It is intended to provide financial support for the spouse who was financially supported during the marriage. Spousal support is not based on gender and any party may request maintenance stipend.
When the marriage lasted for over 20 years the judge will order that the partner will pay permanent alimony. Until the partner dies or remarries. In some cases, the amount paid may be decided and agreed on by both partners when they are completing their separation agreement. However, if they can’t come to an agreement they will result to going to a court. The Virginian court will then asses both partners financial situation and needs before coming to a conclusion on who will be paying maintenance stipend, how much and for how long.
In Virginia, maintenance stipend is not meant to act as a punishment for a partner who might have caused the marriage to fail. Nonetheless, the court needs to consider any fault acts which may have caused the marriage to not work out. These include cruelty, abandonment, adultery or criminal activity. The innocent partner may be innocent from any support obligations.
If one partner provides clear and convincing evidence that the withholding of support from one party may be unjust then the innocent party may have to pay spousal support. For example, a partner who might have problems in retaining or finding a job due to a physical or mental illness, thus having no reliable source of income may be awarded spousal support despite the fact that spouse cheated on the other partner. In Virginia, the court will look equally at both spouses fault and economics. If it is considered unfair to deny the unfaithful spouse support based on the balance of fault or economics, then the court may award that spouse support.
Once the Virginian court decides alimony is appropriate then there are many factors which need to be considered to determine the amount and duration of spousal support. These include:
- The obligations, needs and financial resources of both spouses, this includes income from pensions, profit sharing or retirement plans.
- The duration of the marriage, the longer the marriage the more support is paid.
- The living standards prior to the divorce.
- The age, physical and mental condition of both parties.
- If the physical or mental state of a child makes it inappropriate for the custodial parent to work.
- How any marital property has been divided.
- Each spouses earning capacity including education, skills, and training.
- If there is an opportunity for either spouse to enhance their earning ability either through education, training or employment.
- The effect of any agreements made during the marriage which alter present and future earning potential. These decisions may include employment, career, economics, education and parenting arrangements.
In Virginia the court may order alimony to be paid on a temporary basis, permanently or on both. Payments can also be made in a lump sum, periodically or both. A spouse has the right to request to pay alimony for half of the years they have been married. For example, if they have been married for 10 years then the spouse may ask to pay maintenance stipend for 5 years.
At any time either spouse may ask the court to increase, decrease or terminate maintenance stipend. And spousal support automatically terminates in the event of death, the recipient spouse remarries or has been living with a significant other for over a year.