How does the court decide whether to award alimony?

Alimony, which is also referred to as spousal support, is the payment of financial support by one spouse to the other and can be awarded in a divorce, annulment, or separate maintenance action. However, alimony is not granted in all divorces in Virginia. Here is what the court considers when deciding whether to award this spousal support. 

How the Court Decides Whether to Award Spousal Support #

A judge will not grant alimony simply to punish your spouse for causing the divorce. However, even if the divorce is not a fault-based divorce, the court will consider why your marriage failed in determining whether to grant alimony. For example, if you committed adultery, it is unlikely that a judge would find you eligible to receive spousal support unless you can show that it would be manifestly unjust not to award it to you.

Once the court decides that you are eligible for alimony, the judge will consider a number of factors to decide whether to award it, the amount to be paid, and how long the payments should last. These include:

  • Needs, obligations, and financial resources of you and your spouse, including any pension, profit sharing, or other retirement plan
  • Length of your marriage
  • Your standard of living while you were married
  • Age of you and your spouse, your physical and mental condition, and any special family circumstances
  • Whether special conditions of your children, your spouse, or you prevent one of you from working
  • Financial and other contributions of both partners during the marriage
  • Property owned by each spouse, including marital property
  • How marital property is being divided in the divorce
  • Ability of both you and your spouse to earn money, which includes each of your skills, education, training, and employment opportunities
  • Ability, cost, and time involved for you and your spouse to obtain the education and training needed to earn more money
  • Decisions you and your spouse made about both of your careers, jobs, education, or parenting arrangements while you were married and how these affect your current and future income and job opportunities
  • How you and your spouse helped each other advance with regard to education or your careers while you were married
  • Other factors that would make an award of alimony fair such as tax consequences to each spouse and the reasons for the divorce

If you believe you should be awarded temporary or permanent alimony, you will be much more likely to convince a judge to award it if you have the assistance of an experienced divorce lawyer. To learn about your right to alimony and how I can assist you, call my Midlothian office today to schedule your free consultation.