06 Mar 2014
Alimony is a court-ordered payment made by one spouse to another following a divorce, and is often referred to as spousal support or maintenance. Alimony was very common decades ago, when many households consisted of one spouse who was the breadwinner and the other spouse was a homemaker. In modern times, alimony payments are less prevalent as spouses are often both in the workforce. In such situations, both spouses will have the ability to support themselves following a divorce and have no need for alimony.
However, alimony is still awarded in numerous divorce cases. There are three main types of alimony in Virginia: 1) Temporary alimony, which is awarded prior to divorce for support during separation; 2) Rehabilitative alimony, which is awarded for a specified period of time to assist one spouse while they seek work and become self-sufficient; and 3) Permanent alimony, which is awarded until the remarriage or the alimony recipient or the death of either spouse.
In Virginia, the Divorce Code of 1980 allows a court to award alimony when it finds that such alimony is “necessary.” In determining whether alimony is necessary, courts often examine several factors. Some of these factors include:
- Length of the marriage
- Age of the spouses at the time of divorce
- Health of each spouse
- Relative current income of the spouses
- Education level of each spouse
- Future earning potential and financial prospects of each spouse
- Whether there was fault in the breakdown of the marriage
- Financial need of the proposed alimony recipient
- Ability to pay of the proposed alimony payor
In some situations, the financial stability and earning capacity of each spouse may be so disproportionate that it is only fair that one party pay alimony to the other. However, if a spouse simply chooses to remain unemployed despite the ability to successfully earn a living, it should not be the working spouse’s responsibility to continue to support them.
Overall, alimony determinations should be fair. Attorney Raymond Benzinger has extensive experience handling divorce cases involving alimony from both the side of the recipient and the payor, and will work to make sure his client receives a fair result. If you are facing divorce, call the Law Offices of Raymond B. Benzinger today at (703) 312-0410.