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Work With A Virginia Attorney To Get Spousal Support Right

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As you are separating or in the process of divorce, you may be eligible to receive spousal support or you may be obligated to pay it. Once a spousal support order is in place, it may be modifiable as you and your spouse (or ex-spouse) experience changes in your finances. The outcome of your or your spouse’s petition for spousal support or a modification can have a significant impact on your financial outlook.

At Randall & Bruch, PC, our family law attorneys understand that spousal support may be crucial to maintaining your lifestyle while also providing for your children. They can help you navigate the legal challenges that you must overcome.

How Spousal Support Is Determined

There is no one-size-fits-all formula for determining whether spousal support should be included in your separation or divorce and, if so, how much payments should be. Rather, a family law judge will look at unique factors in your situation, such as:

  • Your and your spouse’s respective incomes and expenses
  • Whether one of you will remain in the marital home with the children
  • The recipient’s needs and the payer’s ability to make payments
  • The length of the marriage
  • Events during the marriage, such as jobs and professional education that either or both of you pursued or contributed to

Petitioning For Support Modifications

There are various reasons why one party may think that they should be paying less spousal maintenance. There are also various reasons why the other party may think they should be receiving more spousal maintenance.

Prior to the passing of a 2018 law, changes to spousal maintenance were typically not allowed in Virginia. However, this is now a possibility if the party seeking the modification can prove a material change in circumstances that would justify the change.

Common Questions

Below are answers to a few questions that our lawyers frequently receive.

How can domestic violence affect spousal support payments?

Spousal support is always dependent on one party’s need and the other party’s ability to pay. In addition, other factors, such as the length of the marriage and each partner’s contributions to the household, have to be considered. It is never ordered to punish one spouse for their behavior during a marriage.

However, many judges will consider how domestic violence has affected the victimized spouse’s ability to obtain self-support. If injuries inflicted by a violent spouse prevent the other one from working or they were not permitted to work during the marriage, that could influence the court to award additional support.

What are common reasons for spousal support modifications?

Spousal support can be lowered, raised, or even terminated if there are significant changes in the life circumstances of either of the ex-spouses and the agreement or order permits such changes. Some of the things that can cause a court to consider modification of support include:

  • Involuntary job losses by either party
  • Illness or incapacity of the paying spouse
  • Romantic cohabitation or remarriage by the recipient party
  • Significant increases or decreases in income for either party
  • Retirement or the reaching of retirement age for either party

Every situation is different, however, which is why you need legal guidance that is tailored to the specifics of your case before making a modification request.

How long does spousal support last in Virginia?

There is no simple answer to this question. Generally speaking, you can expect spousal support for a dependent spouse to be set at 50% of the length of the marriage. If the marriage lasted more than 20 years, however, permanent spousal support may be ordered. However, factors such as a spouse’s disability, their ability to become self-supporting and whether any children are involved can also affect the duration of support.

Can adultery affect spousal support payments in Virginia?

If you can prove that your spouse committed adultery, then they will generally be denied spousal support.

Our Family Law Attorneys Offer Free Case Evaluations

If you have any questions regarding child support or spousal support payments in Virginia, contact an attorney as soon as possible. Whether you are just beginning the divorce or separation process or have been separated for some time and need a modification, these issues can become complicated. A lawyer will be able to guide you through this process and protect your interests.

At Randall & Bruch, PC, our attorneys pledge to give you their full support as you work through challenges related to divorce, spousal support, modifications and enforcement of court orders. You can request a free case evaluation through our online inquiry form or call 757-742-6115. We serve all of Hampton Roads and southeastern Virginia and have primary office locations in Southampton, Emporia, Brunswick and Suffolk.

jack t randall

Written By Jack T. Randall


As lifelong resident of Western Tidewater, Jack Randall is a local attorney who wants the best results for his clients. He is an experienced and aggressive attorney with focus on family law, criminal and traffic law, as well as personal injury law cases.