Helping People Understand Alimony While Going Through Divorce

Going through a divorce is often one of the hardest things a person will have to go through. You spent years building your life up with another person you assumed you would spend the rest of your life with. You are worried about how you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse are going to separate your lives in a way that is fair for both of you.

The topic of alimony comes up often when talking about divorce. It is often spoken about in a negative tone, but alimony has its place in divorce.

What is Alimony?

Alimony, also known as spousal maintenance or spousal support, is a legal obligation on a person to provide financial support to their spouse before or after a separation or divorce. There are different kinds of alimony and each serves a different purpose.

Alimony gets its roots from the fact that in a marriage, each spouse is financially responsible for the well-being of the other. In certain cases, that financial obligation does not end if the marriage ends.

Virginia awards spousal support only when it is deemed necessary by the courts. Courts award alimony when marriages are long-term, where the spouses have a large gap in income. It may also be awarded if one spouse has a disability or a spouse gave up their career in order to support the marriage.

How is Alimony Handled?

If you are going through a divorce, you may be wondering about spousal support. Some people are worried about being taken care of post-divorce. Other people are worried about being taken advantage of after their divorce. Understanding how alimony proceedings are handled can help both of these people!

Important! Did you know it is almost impossible to get an alimony agreement after your divorce if alimony was not discussed during divorce proceedings? This means that if you are seeking alimony, it is important to pursue it during your divorce because it will be too late once your divorce is finalized!

An alimony agreement can be handled by the divorcing spouses. If one spouse simply agrees to support their ex-spouse for a certain amount of time after the divorce, they do not have to have a court weigh in.

However, it is more common to petition a court order to receive alimony from your spouse.

What Factors Are Considered When Determining Alimony?

The courts will determine a number of factors when determining if spousal maintenance is necessary. If it is found to be necessary, their next task will be to determine the length of the agreement and the amount that will be paid from one individual to the other.

The courts will examine the length of your marriage. Longer marriages have higher odds of successfully petitioning for spousal support.

Virginia is one of the few states that still offers at-fault divorce. This means if your marriage is ending because of infidelity or adultery, domestic violence, or for any fault-based cause, an individual may be awarded more alimony as a punitive measure.

Virginia courts consider the standard of living when determining alimony. This means a judge will consider the lifestyle that you lived before petitioning for alimony. This is intended to continue the same level of comfort you enjoyed during your marriage.

Parental obligations are not considered when determining eligibility for spousal support or the amount of support that will be awarded.

If you sacrificed your professional career or education, you may be able to petition temporary maintenance that helps you get through a higher-education program, setting you up to better care for yourself.

Judges calculate alimony on a case-by-case basis. Some states have a fixed alimony calculation formula, but the final amount and duration of a maintenance award are at the sole discretion of the judge presiding over your case.

Virginia grants both temporary alimony and permanent spousal maintenance, depending on the specifics of each case.

How Can You Avoid Paying Alimony?

One of the best ways to avoid ever paying alimony is by signing a prenuptial agreement with your partner before you are married. You can also create a postnuptial agreement after you are married. In these agreements, you and your partner can both negotiate not to pursue alimony during your divorce.

In the same way, an adulterous act can increase the odds of winning an alimony agreement; that same act can bar someone from receiving alimony. If you are pursuing a divorce because your partner cheated on you, it will be harder for your former spouse to win an alimony claim.

You can also petition the court to examine your spouse’s ability to work and their current relationship. When your spouse tries to get spousal support, they may claim that they are unable to work and need assistance. If a judge determines they are fit to work, their alimony claim may be nixed. Likewise, if a judge determines that your spouse’s claims of rehabilitative alimony are not necessary, then you may be safe from paying after your divorce is finalized

Do You Need a Spousal Support Attorney?

Having a divorce lawyer who understands spousal support law can help you understand how spousal support is determined and can improve your odds of success.

Ask yourself this: what are the odds your ex-husband or ex-wife is going to speak with a divorce lawyer who is going to push them into pursuing alimony? Or, how likely is it they will fight your alimony claim tooth and nail? Having an experienced alimony attorney in your corner can improve your chances of prevailing.

Contact Our Office Today for Strong Legal Representation Throughout the Alimony Process

Call 540-991-9100 to schedule a free consultation with the law office of Ashwell & Ashwell, PLLC. It only takes 30 minutes to get a better understanding of alimony and all of the many factors considered when determining alimony.


Contact Ashwell & Ashwell, PLLC Offices Today!

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