Child and Spousal Support
Marriage creates financial responsibilities. Divorce, unfortunately, can result in lengthy battles over marital and parental financial responsibilities.
Until a divorce is final, married couples are financially responsible for each other, as well as their minor children. When going through a divorce, two of the most challenging topics to navigate are spousal support and child support.
If you are divorcing and have spousal or child support issues, you can benefit from the advice of an experienced Invictus Law family law attorney like Thomas Wright. Mr. Wright knows the Virginia Beach family law courts, and he will take the time to get to know you and understand your family’s best interests.
At Invictus Law, our family law legal team will leverage our knowledge of the law and our negotiation skills to help you and your spouse reach an optimal, amicable agreement. However, if your spouse refuses to agree to a fair settlement, we’ll fight vigorously for your rights and the outcome you and your family deserve.
Contact Invictus Law today for a confidential consultation with a compassionate, knowledgeable family law attorney who has your best interests in mind.
How Do Courts Determine Spousal Support in Virginia?
In Virginia, spousal support is when the court orders one spouse to pay a certain amount of money to a financially dependent spouse, usually on a monthly basis. Spousal support may be awarded for two different time periods:
- during the divorce process; and
- after the divorce.
Spousal support awarded during the divorce process—pendente light spousal support—is discussed below.
Post-divorce spousal support is awarded only when necessary—and it may be temporary or permanent.
Temporary support is called “rehabilitative” support. It is awarded to support one spouse for a period necessary to get the education or job training that the spouse needs to become financially self-sufficient. The spouse who receives it has usually given up or postponed education and career opportunities to raise a family and support the other spouse’s career.
Permanent support is not typically awarded. Facts that support a permanent support award include:
- A long-term marriage with a large income gap between the parties.
- One spouse is disabled.
- One spouse is unemployed.
Virginia law— Va. Code Ann. §20-107.1 (E)—requires a court to consider the following factors before awarding spousal support:
- The parties’ financial resources
- The parties’ obligations and needs
- The parties’ standard of living during the marriage
- The length of the marriage
- The parties’ ages and physical and mental conditions
- The parties’ children and any special circumstances that might prevent one spouse from working
- The parties’ contributions to the family’s well-being
- The parties’ property interests
- The parties’ marital property agreements
- The parties’ earning capacities
- The parties’ sacrifices during marriage and their impact on future earnings
- The parties’ contributions to each other’s education, training, and career advancement
- The parties’ individual roles in contributing to the end of the marriage, specifically including whether either spouse engaged in adultery or other fault grounds under Virginia law
Tax consequences and other factors may also be considered.
This list is just a guide. How much weight a particular judge will give to any of the above factors is up to the individual judge’s broad discretion.
How Do Courts Determine Child Support in Virginia?
Virginia uses a formula to set a “presumptive” amount that each parent will contribute to child support. The amount is based on the combined monthly incomes of both parents. The idea is to give children what a single household with both parents would have given them.
You can get an idea of what your amount could be using one of two worksheets:
- For parents who have fewer than 90 days a year of parenting time, use this Virginia Child Support Guidelines Worksheet.
- For parents who have at least 90 days a year of parenting time, use this Virginia Shared Custody Child Support Guidelines Worksheet.
The formula looks at each’s parent’s available monthly income. You will need the following information for you and your spouse to use the worksheets:
- Income from all sources, including salaries, wages, veteran’s, and disability benefits
- Spousal support obligations in this and any other case
- Child support obligations in any other case
- Child support payments either of you receives in any other case
- Monthly expenses if either or both of you are self-employed or own a small business
- Monthly health, vision, and dental insurance premiums for your child/children
Virginia law—VA Code §20-108.2—allows either spouse to ask the court to adjust the presumptive award up or down because it would be “unjust or inappropriate in a particular case.” Some relevant factors include:
- Support for other family members
- Visitation costs
- Income “imputed” to a parent who is willfully unemployed or underemployed
- Childcare costs incurred so a custodial parent can work
- Debts incurred for the children during the marriage
- Court-ordered payments for life insurance or education on behalf of the child/children
- Extraordinary capital gains from the sale of the marital home
- A child’s physical, emotional, or medical special needs
- Any child’s independent financial resources
- The standard of living established during the marriage
How Long Are Spousal Support and Child Support Paid?
Temporary spousal support awarded while the divorce is pending ends when the divorce is final.
Post-divorce “rehabilitative” spousal support typically ends when the supported spouse reaches a milestone, like earning a degree or completing a certificate program, and becomes financially self-sufficient.
Permanent post-divorce spousal support does not end unless or until one of the following occurs, which can also terminate any pre- or post-divorce temporary support:
- Remarriage (or cohabitation) of the supported spouse; or
- Death of either spouse.
Child support usually ends when a child turns 18, but it could continue until a child turns 19 if the child is:
- a full-time high school student;
- dependent (not self-supporting); and
- living with the parent receiving child support.
These rules do not apply to children who are severely and permanently mentally or physically disabled.
What Is “Pendente Light” Spousal Support?
Pendente light is Latin for “pending the litigation.” Virginia law allows judges to award pendente light support to spouses who need financial help while the case is pending in court. Virginia law sets presumptive amounts using these formulas:
- For couples who share minor children: 26% x paying spouse’s gross income minus 58% of the receiving spouse’s monthly gross income
- For couples who do not share minor children: 27% x paying spouse’s gross income minus 50% of the receiving spouse’s gross income
The presumptive formulas are mandatory for couples with a combined monthly income of less than $10,000, and they are a reference for those couples with more income. Virginia judges have the discretion to set different amounts in all cases.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
What gets decided in your divorce can impact the rest of your life and your children’s lives. What you don’t know can cost you.
An experienced family law attorney can:
- Advise you on what you should expect at every stage of the legal process.
- Calculate possible spousal and child support payments.
- Establish your case for child support or spousal support.
- Enforce child support or spousal support orders.
- Help you modify prior child or spousal support orders.
- Create and file the appropriate forms for your divorce.
- Negotiate spousal and child support on your behalf.
- Represent you in court and uphold your rights.
How Invictus Law Can Help
The team at Invictus Law cares about your family. If you have children, we keep what is best for them in mind, first and foremost. Attorney Thomas Wright knows both sides of spousal and child support. As a divorced father, he knows what you are going through and will always work tirelessly to get the results his clients need and deserve. Don’t hesitate to contact our Virginia Beach legal team at 757-317-5125.