Spousal Support FAQs

Size of Spousal Support Award

There are a number of factors that will determine the amount and duration of court-awarded spousal support, but generally the most critical is that the support will allow the recipient to maintain the lifestyle to which she/he had been accustomed during the marriage. For example, the support payee should not expect his/her obligation to merely […]

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Ill-Intended Purpose for Spousal Support

A party’s true need for spousal support is key in obtaining and maintaining a spousal support award.  As was recently demonstrated in a Virginia divorce case, as spouse’s statement implying an improper reason for seeking spousal support, e.g., to bankrupt the other spouse, can cause a court to question the need for support.

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Spousal Support: Imputation of Income

When either divorcing spouse is deemed voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, the Court may impute income to that spouse.  That is, cause the amount of money that the spouse is capable of earning to be counted against him or her when calculating support obligations or awards.  There are a number of factors that the court must […]

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Selection and Use of a Vocational Expert In Spousal Support Cases

You have made that decision to file for a divorce and now you’re faced with a range of additional decisions. Some of these are extremely critical. The first and most critical decision is finding and securing a competent lawyer, someone who understands you and your situation. The second is deciding what experts you might need, […]

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Changing a Spousal Support Obligation

A court may modify a spousal support award if either party can demonstrate a material change in circumstance.  The change in circumstances must bear upon the financial needs of the dependent spouse or the ability of the supporting spouse to pay. Typically the process is initiated when one party files a motion to modify spousal […]

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Parsing Out Expenses: Child Support vs Spousal Support

Some expenses will overlap when calculating child and spousal support awards.  The Virginia Court of Appeals recently decided that spouses seeking support do not necessarily have to apportion every category of expense as supporting either spouse or children.  According to the Court, some expenses are indivisible by their very nature.  The determination of spousal and […]

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How Spousal Support Would Apply in the Hypothetical Divorce Case

How Spousal Support Would Apply in the Hypothetical Divorce Case The hypothetical Ashburn divorce case describes a situation representing  the classic basis for spousal support.  This occurs when the parties marry after college and start a family right away.  At the beginning of the marriage, the wife’s contributions focus on raising kids and managing the […]

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What is the first step to take when dealing with spousal support issues?

The complexity and high stakes nature of child support and other Family Law matters require skilled legal representation. The multitude of issues involved extend far beyond the FAQs herein. An initial consultation is the absolute minimum step that a party should take to learn what their rights are and how to protect them. Contact the Law […]

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What is the statutory basis for termination of spousal support?

(i)The death of the payor or payee, (ii) the remarriage of the payee, (iii) upon clear and convincing evidence that the payee has been habitually cohabiting with another person in a relationship analogous to a marriage.

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I just retired. Can I modify and/or terminate my spousal support obligation?

Maybe. You will need to consult with an attorney to determine whether your specific obligation maybe modifiable or terminated. However, generally, if the spousal support award was made by the court (not by an agreement of the parties precluding or not providing for modification) then the court should have the jurisdiction to modify the award […]

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What is the general role of adultery in spousal support?

A finding of adultery will bar a party from spousal support unless to deny such support would constitute a “manifest injustice.”

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What is permanent support vs. defined duration support as awarded by a court?

When a court awards “permanent” support (such as in the case of a long-term marriage), the support is to be paid until modified by the court or until certain termination events occur. Defined duration support is as the term suggests-spousal support to be paid for a time certain.

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The other party refuses to work and/or earn a decent wage and, as a result, it looks like I will have to pay much more in spousal support. Can anything be done?

The court has the power to “impute” income to a party who is voluntarily underemployed or unemployed. Most commonly, but not always, a vocational expert should be utilized to provide the evidence needed. Successful imputation of income can dramatically mitigate or preclude the amount and/or duration of spousal support.

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How is spousal support determined?

Spousal support may be awarded in varying circumstances to assist a financially dependent party. Issues involved in determining spousal support depend on key factors such as: (a) gross incomes of the parties, (b) need and ability to pay, (c) length of a marriage, (d) standard of living during the marriage, (e) the roles of the […]

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How are fees for legal services assessed?

In divorce and Family Law matters, the Law Office of William R.F. Conners, P.C., charges by the hour. A nominal fee is required for initial consultations. Visa/MasterCard accepted.

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After reading the FAQs (above), the first step for most of our clients is the Family Law Consultation. At this typically hour long meeting, you will meet with lawyer William R.F. Conners or another well known and experienced attorney affiliated with the Firm. We will discuss the many aspects of your marriage that may impact your spousal support case. In the course of the consultation, we will assess your situation, advise you of your legal rights, obligations and relevant law and discuss your options and remedies. After the consultation, you will be better equipped to make important decisions on your spousal support issues.

In spousal support disputes, our spousal support lawyers can advise you on many aspects including: What constitutes “income”

  • “Imputation” of income
  • Arguments for and against classification of income
  • The underemployed/unemployed opposing party
  • “Permanent” vs. “defined duration” or “rehabilitative” periods
  • Strategies to mitigate the amount of spousal support paid
  • Strategies to mitigate the duration of amount of spousal support
  • The impact of need and ability to pay
  • Challenging claimed expenses
  • The role of fault in spousal support
  • The role of judicial discretion in determining spousal support
  • How experts can be effectively utilized
  • And many more aspects of spousal support.

The Law Office of William R.F. Conners, P.C. in Leesburg, Virginia serves the cities of Chantilly, Fairfax, Herndon, Leesburg, Middleburg, Reston, and Vienna, Sterling, Ashburn and Purcellville, as well as all communities in Loudoun County and Fairfax County, Virginia.