The issue of spousal support – whether it should be paid, how much should be paid and for how long – is the source of a considerable amount of conflict in divorce. A couple may come to an agreement on their own about alimony, or if they are unable to come to an agreement, the court can decide for them. There is another option, however, to help you and your spouse work out the details of spousal support. Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution option which can help the parties work through their differences and come to an agreement.
When there is conflict and disagreement between the parties regarding alimony, a mediator can help them work through the troubling emotions that block them from coming up with a workable solution. The Code of Virginia § 20-107.1 accounts for three types of maintenance and support of a spouse: 1. periodic payments made for a defined duration, 2. periodic payments for an undefined duration and 3. a lump sum award or any combination of these.
What you should know about alimony in Virginia
Virginia law recognizes that a married couple are financially responsible for one another; each has a duty to the other. There are no rules determining how much spousal support one spouse should pay to the other or for how long, if the marriage comes to an end. In determining spousal support, there must be a balance between the needs of one spouse and the ability of the other spouse to pay. In a marriage of a long duration where there is a significant gap in the incomes of the parties, alimony is supposed to make sure that the parties can continue to enjoy the same standard of living they enjoyed during the marriage.
Factors to consider when deciding alimony in Virginia
The following are a few of the factors that a judge might consider when determining support awards:
- The age of the parties
- The duration of the marriage
- The current and future earning capacity of each party
- The standard of living during the marriage
- The contributions each party has made to the marriage
- The financial assets of each spouse
- Legal fault for the divorce
With mediation, the parties have the power to create the kind of spousal support agreement that they can both live with and abide by. Mediation provides the opportunity for the parties to develop a creative solution to their alimony dilemma that is personalized to their situation. The work of our Reston divorce mediators is to diffuse the conflict and equip each party with the skills to navigate their differences and find a way forward.
At Divorce Mediation Associates, our team of professionals offers guidance and support to divorcing couples in Northern Virginia. If you have questions, or if you would like to schedule an appointment to learn about the services we provide, you are welcome to call 703-665-7592, or use our contact form.