Spousal support is a form of monetary support paid to the more financially dependent spouse and is based on a number of factors, including length of the marriage and financial ability of each party. The terms “spousal support” and “alimony” (also “maintenance”) are generally used interchangeably. While the court may or may not award spousal support, parties are able to enter into agreements that provide for different combinations of support, payment methods, or durations. The parties can even waive their rights to spousal support by agreement, which the court cannot modify down the line.
The Role of “Fault” on Spousal Support
Before it may order support, a court first determines whether the spouse seeking support is barred from getting it. Generally, if a court finds a spouse is guilty of adultery, that spouse will be barred from receiving support, barring special findings. Even then, if a denial of spousal support “would constitute a manifest injustice,” a spouse who committed adultery may be eligible to receive support.
Spousal Support Factors
When deciding whether to award spousal support and how much, the court will consider the following factors:
(Va. Code Section 20-107.1.)
Spousal Support Guidelines
In setting temporary or permanent support, the court will take into consideration the local guidleines. The Fairfax guidelines are frequently used to set temporary spousal support throughout the Northern Virginia Area. The calculation for support is as follows;
WITHOUT CHILD SUPPORT:
30% Higher-earning spouse’s gross income
50% Lower-earning spouse’s gross income
WITH CHILD SUPPORT:
28% Higher-earning spouse’s gross income
58% Lower-earning spouse’s gross income
However, the calculations are not strictly adhered to, especially when the court is faced with a high-income family. For purposes of temporary spousal support cases, “high-income” is defined as parties with a combined gross monthly income of over $10,000. In those cases, the court will often consider the actual needs of the recipient in setting the spousal support award.