The financial obligations of one spouse to another can lead to protected family court conflict in some cases. Most couples do not have a pre-existing agreement in place that addresses alimony, and they will, therefore, need to either negotiate an arrangement while seeking an uncontested divorce or they will need to litigate their concerns and ask a judge to apply Virginia statutes to their marital circumstances.
The two biggest concerns about alimony in Virginia are how long payments will last and how much one spouse must pay the other. In many cases, there is no set formula that is applied to every divorce that addresses these concerns. Instead, the circumstances of the parties largely dictate the outcome of an alimony matter. However, there is an exception to this rule in scenarios involving short-term alimony.
Income strongly influences alimony amounts
In cases where there is a need for short-term support, state law actually has a clear formula for calculating the amount of alimony for many households. The most important factor is the income levels of each spouse. For those without children, the formula requires subtracting 50% of the gross income of the spouse receiving support from 27% of the gross income of the spouse paying. If there are children, then the courts will look at 58% of the income of the person receiving support and 26% of the person paying support.
In scenarios with exceptionally low income or where household income combined between both spouses exceeds $10,000, judges will have to make a case-by-case determination after closely reviewing family circumstances. Those who worry about being able to support themselves during the divorce process or after divorce may feel more confident once they learn about this formula.
Those likely to be ordered to pay support in a longer-term fashion may feel more comfortable about their obligations once they realize that the courts will limit payments in a litigated scenario based on their ability to pay and factors relevant to the marriage, such as how long the marriage lasted.
Ultimately, seeking legal guidance and learning more about the unique rules that apply to alimony and other financial matters in Virginia divorces can help people better prepare for the divorce process itself and life after marriage as well.