If you are a divorcing spouse who hopes to receive alimony (legally called spousal support or spousal maintenance), you may wonder if the length of your marriage matters. Nothing in Virginia law states that the length of marriage determines your spousal support eligibility. There is no minimum number of marriage years required, so technically, you could have been married a year and still qualify for spousal support.
Whether you get a support award, however, is ultimately up to the judge’s discretion, and one of the factors that judges must consider in their decision-making is the length of marriage. This is why it is widely presumed and unofficially accepted in the legal field that the shorter the marriage, the less likely it is to result in spousal support. At the very least, the length of marriage is a major factor in deciding the duration of your spousal maintenance.
To understand this better, here is an overview of how Virginia courts determine alimony.
How Spousal Support Is Determined In Virginia
The key questions to be answered in an alimony case are:
- Should the court award you spousal support?
- If so, how much spousal support should you get? (Alimony amount)
- How long should the spousal support last? (Alimony duration)
Virginia law has no hard-and-fast rules in answering these questions. The judge must specially examine each case, taking into account these factors listed in Virginia Code 20-107:
- Needs, obligations, and financial resources of each party
- The standard of living during the marriage
- Marriage duration
- The physical and mental condition of each party, as well as their age and unique circumstances in the family
- Whether it is appropriate that one party not look for work outside the home (because of their age, physical or mental condition, or situation with a child)
- Any monetary or nonmonetary contributions of each party to the family
- Property interests of each party
- Any legal provisions regarding their marital property
- Earning capacity of each party, including their skills, education, training, and employment opportunities
- The opportunity and costs needed for either party to acquire the education, training, and employment to earn
- Any decisions or arrangements that the couple made during their marriage affecting their economic situation
- How much either party has contributed to the education, training, or career of the other party
- Other factors, including taxes and grounds for divorce.
As mentioned, there is no formula or set of steps that a Virginia court has to follow in determining spousal support. Legal professionals in the state, though, have some informal and general presumptions to help clients get an idea of what to expect from their spousal support case. That is why it is helpful to speak with an attorney. We are here and ready to discuss your spousal support case. Give us a call at 757-656-1000 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will set up a consultation to discuss your options with one of our attorneys.