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Spousal Support

Spousal Support is one of the more emotional and difficult of the divorce issues. While monetary issues are typically prevalent in dealing with spousal support, non-economic issues, such as the degree to which one party was responsible for the breakdown of the marriage, must also be taken into account and dealt with. Those non-financial issues are often the primary source of emotional contention over spousal support, particularly where one or both parties cling to pre-conceived notions that they “deserve” to receive or not pay support because of non-financial circumstances related to the marriage or the breakdown of the marriage.

Spousal support can be awarded on a temporary, short-term basis, for the purpose of providing a party with the necessary funds to meet his or her expenses during a divorce; for a definite period after the conclusion of the divorce case, for purposes of allowing the receiving spouse time to reenter the work force; and/or on a permanent basis, for purposes of maintaining the receiving spouse in a manner to which he or she became accustomed during the marriage. While spousal support is often awarded in monthly installments, courts also have the authority to order one-time lump sum payments under appropriate circumstances. Spousal support can be awarded by either juvenile and domestic relations district courts or by circuit courts, provided that the parties are or have been married.

Unlike child support, spousal support is not governed by definite, presumptively correct guidelines, except in temporary spousal support cases brought in the juvenile and domestic relations district courts. Instead, Virginia law requires that courts consider a list of enumerated factors, financial as well as non-financial, when determining the amount and duration of a spousal support award. Upon consideration of the enumerated factors, courts are afforded wide discretion in setting support. That discretion makes spousal support one of the most subjective and least predictable determinations made by courts in divorce cases, and, one of the more difficult issues to settle.

Due to the lack of formulaic guidelines and objective standards, and the intermix of emotional and financial considerations involved, it is very important to have capable, knowledgeable counsel represent you when pursuing or defending a spousal support claim. Steve Raynor has been handling spousal support cases for over twenty years, and is both knowledgeable and experienced in navigating the subjective and complex intricacies involved in spousal support determinations. Please contact us to discuss your need to pursue or defend a spousal support claim.

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