What Is Spousal Support?

In many marriages, it is common to have one spouse as the breadwinner while the other spouse is either unemployed or underemployed. While the marriage exists, the breadwinner spouse caters to the financial needs of the dependent spouse. But when the marriage hits the rocks, the breadwinner spouse may withdraw their financial support, leaving the other spouse with nothing.

Because of the fear of such an eventuality, many dependent spouses are forced to remain in unhappy marriages for fear of becoming destitute. If you are in this position, do not let your fear of financial insecurity after divorce keep you from making a move. By Virginia Divorce and Family Law, you may be entitled to spousal support, which means you can get periodic payments from your spouse during and after your divorce proceedings.

Spousal support is a legal relief granted to help people in your position have financial stability while transitioning to a single life. However, the relief is not granted automatically in a divorce. You need to specifically ask the court for it and prove that you are eligible for a spousal support award.

Spousal support is a contentious issue in most cases because the spouse on the other end is almost always unwilling to pay. As a spouse seeking support, you must be ready to fight your case and show with solid evidence that you are entitled to financial relief.

If you’re in or around Warrenton, Virginia, experienced divorce lawyers from Ashwell & Ashwell, PLLC can guide you through the legal process and help you increase your chances of success. In the meantime, we’ve created this guide to help you learn more about spousal support in Virginia, so you’ll know what to expect from your case.

Types of Spousal Support in Virginia


There are three types of spousal support available in Virginia: temporary, permanent, and rehabilitative.

Temporary or Pendente Lite Spousal Support

Temporary spousal support is granted to cover the dependent spouse’s living expenses while the divorce litigation is pending (pendente lite). It terminates once the divorce becomes final.

Rehabilitative Spousal Support

This type of spousal support is granted after the divorce is finalized. It is usually granted in cases where the dependent spouse leaves their job to raise their children or support their spouse’s career.

It aims to provide the dependent spouse with the resources to seek employment, get appropriate education, or take any other step that would allow them to become financially independent. The spousal support award terminates once those conditions (as specified by the judge) are met.

Permanent Spousal Support

This will entitle a party to support for an indefinite period. This will terminate only upon the death of either party or if the dependent spouse remarries.

Permanent spousal support is not easy to get. Still, it exists to help dependent spouses who are unable to support themselves after divorce due to age, disability, or prolonged absence from the labor market.

How To Establish Your Eligibility for Spousal Support


To be eligible for spousal support, you must demonstrate a financial need and ask the court to approve spousal support during the divorce process.

Before deciding on your application, the judge will consider certain factors to determine the type, amount, or duration of spousal support or whether to grant spousal support at all. Those factors include the following;

  • The financial resources of both parties

  • The financial obligations and needs of both parties

  • The standard of living of both parties during the marriage

  • The duration of your marriage

  • The age, physical, and mental condition of the parties

  • Contributions of each spouse during the marriage, whether monetary or non-monetary

  • Real and personal property of each spouse and other property interests

  • Each spouse’s earning capacity, including the skills, education, and training, as well as present employment opportunities

  • The tax consequences of support to both parties.

To succeed, you should be able to provide evidence of the above factors as they benefit you.

Your spouse may try to hide assets or how much they earn to avoid paying you what you deserve. As the party seeking support, it is important that you do all you can to secure evidence of their earning capacity so you can present it in court. That way, the judge has a clear picture of the financial capabilities of each party.

The impact of adultery on your divorce is profound and could also affect the judge’s decision to award support. If you have proof of your spouse’s adultery, that could help you solidify your claim. Conversely, if there is proof of your adultery, your chances of getting spousal support would be significantly affected.

Spousal Support Payments in Virginia: How They Are Made


Depending on the judge’s orders, spousal support payments may be made periodically (usually monthly) as lump sum payments or as property transfers.

If you believe your spouse might try to evade payment, you can ask the court to issue an order directing your spouse’s employer to deduct the spousal support amount directly from their paycheck and send it straight to you.

Can a Spousal Support Order Be Modified?


The court can modify a spousal support order upon application of either spouse. Modification could mean increasing or decreasing the duration or amount of spousal support. However, the requesting spouse must show that a material change in circumstances has occurred to warrant the modification.

Contact Experienced Divorce Lawyers at Ashwell & Ashwell, PLLC


The spousal support laws in Virginia exist to ensure that dependent spouses are not left without support during and after divorce. But if you are a dependent spouse seeking or already in the middle of a divorce, it is your job to get the laws to work for your benefit.

At Ashwell & Ashwell PLLC, we have decades of experience handling divorce and family law cases. We can help you navigate the complexities of Virginia spousal support to ensure your finances are secured during and after divorce.

Book a consultation with us today to get started with the process. Let us assess your case and help determine the next steps to help you achieve your goals.

We also have several resources on our website to support and enlighten those going through a divorce in Virginia. Our article “3 Challenges You Can Avoid With a Non-Contested Divorce” is an excellent place to start if you seek to learn more about the divorce process.

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