Support issues relating to child support and spousal support can be very complex due to the financial difficulties that may arise and emotional aspects inherent in such cases. However, support is designed for the continued maintenance of the spouse and the minor children and it is important to have an experienced lawyer on your side. We offer a Free Initial 30 Minute Consultation For New Clients. Give us a call or use the contact form below.
The court can decree the maintenance and support of a spouse to be made in (i) periodic payments for a defined duration, (ii) periodic payments for an undefined duration, (iii) a lump sum, or (iv) a combination thereof. § 20-107.1
Adultery is an absolute bar to spousal support unless the court determines from clear and convincing evidence that a denial of such support would constitute a manifest injustice.
The court can also consider all of the factors in § 20-107.1 and determine that support is not appropriate based on the equities of the parties.
The parties can also waive spousal support and, in addition, reserve the right for a party to seek support in the future.
In determining support and maintenance for a spouse, the court must consider (§ 20-107.1(E)) :
- The obligations, needs and financial resources of the parties, including but not limited to income from all pension, profit sharing or retirement plans, of whatever nature;
- The standard of living established during the marriage;
- The duration of the marriage;
- The age and physical and mental condition of the parties and any special circumstances of the family;
- The extent to which the age, physical or mental condition or special circumstances of any child of the parties would make it appropriate that a party not seek employment outside of the home;
- The contributions, monetary and nonmonetary, of each party to the well-being of the family;
- The property interests of the parties, both real and personal, tangible and intangible;
- The provisions made with regard to the marital property under § 20-107.3;
- The earning capacity, including the skills, education and training of the parties and the present employment opportunities for persons possessing such earning capacity;
- The opportunity for, ability of, and the time and costs involved for a party to acquire the appropriate education, training and employment to obtain the skills needed to enhance his or her earning ability;
- The decisions regarding employment, career, economics, education and parenting arrangements made by the parties during the marriage and their effect on present and future earning potential, including the length of time one or both of the parties have been absent from the job market;
- The extent to which either party has contributed to the attainment of education, training, career position or profession of the other party; and
- Such other factors, including the tax consequences to each party, as are necessary to consider the equities between the parties.
The Federal Child Support Enforcement Amendments for 1984 required each state to establish child support guidelines (to remain eligible for federal funding). Pursuant to § 20-108.2 of the Virginia Code, Virginia has adopted child support guidelines based on the combined gross income of both parents and the number of children. There is currently a rebuttable presumption that the child support award set out in the guidelines is the correct amount.
If the court deviates from the child support guidelines, the court must make a written finding considering the following factors (§ 20-108.1):
- Actual monetary support for other family members or former family members;
- Arrangements regarding custody of the children, including the cost of visitation travel;
- Imputed income to a party who is voluntarily unemployed or voluntarily under-employed; provided that income may not be imputed to a custodial parent when a child is not in school, child care services are not available and the cost of such child care services are not included in the computation and provided further, that any consideration of imputed income based on a change in a party's employment shall be evaluated with consideration of the good faith and reasonableness of employment decisions made by the party, including to attend and complete an educational or vocational program likely to maintain or increase the party's earning potential;
- Any child care costs incurred on behalf of the child or children due to the attendance of a custodial parent in an educational or vocational program likely to maintain or increase the party's earning potential;
- Debts of either party arising during the marriage for the benefit of the child;
- Direct payments ordered by the court for maintaining life insurance coverage pursuant to subsection D, education expenses, or other court-ordered direct payments for the benefit of the child;
- Extraordinary capital gains such as capital gains resulting from the sale of the marital abode;
- Any special needs of a child resulting from any physical, emotional, or medical condition;
- Independent financial resources of the child or children;
- Standard of living for the child or children established during the marriage;
- Earning capacity, obligations, financial resources, and special needs of each parent;
- Provisions made with regard to the marital property under § 20-107.3, where said property earns income or has an income-earning potential;
- Tax consequences to the parties including claims for exemptions, child tax credit, and child care credit for dependent children;
- A written agreement, stipulation, consent order, or decree between the parties which includes the amount of child support; and
- Such other factors as are necessary to consider the equities for the parents and children.