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Virginia Alimony Decisions in Divorce Mediation


Virginia Alimony Decisions in Divorce Mediation

Divorce in Virginia can be expensive and time consuming for both parties. If you are entitled to or in need of spousal support, you have likely been married for a long time and have a significant gap in income between you and your spouse. In Virginia, the actual term for alimony is “spousal support.” Unlike some other jurisdictions, Virginia does not have a formula for spousal support (except as to pendent lite, or temporary, support where several circuits, including Fairfax, have guidelines). Any guidelines that you hear about are not binding in any Virginia court.

Typically, any spousal support or alimony payments that get decided with your divorce mediation attorney are paid out periodically, either for a pre-determined and agreed upon amount of time, or in perpetuity. When you and your spouse enter into mediation negotiations, you will need to provide full and accurate information about earnings, property, and potential earnings. Additionally, you will need to understand that spousal support and child support are structurally different entities, and you must generally declare spousal support as income on your taxes.

Are there certain criteria for alimony payments in Virginia?

In Virginia, while there are no binding guidelines or rules to establish fair and equitable spousal support payments, the legislature has put forward several criteria by which to make decisions. The Virginia statute has the following criteria listed:

  1. 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;

  2. The standard of living established during the marriage;

  3. The duration of the marriage;

  4. The age and physical and mental condition of the parties and any special circumstances of the family;

  5. 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;

  6. The contributions, monetary and nonmonetary, of each party to the well-being of the family;

  7. The property interests of the parties, both real and personal, tangible and intangible;

  8. The provisions made with regard to the marital property under 20-107.3;

  9. The earning capacity, including the skills, education and training of the parties and the present employment opportunities for persons possessing such earning capacity;

  10. 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;

  11. 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;

  12. The extent to which either party has contributed to the attainment of education, training, career position or profession of the other party; and

  13. Such other factors, including the tax consequences to each party and the circumstances and factors that contributed to the dissolution, specifically including any ground for divorce, as are necessary to consider the equities between the parties.

What information should you share with your mediator?

If you are in the divorce mediation process, you will want to provide all of the following information to your mediators and any other financial professionals you are working with:

  • Income from salaries. You should provide your income, and your spouse’s income, if any.

  • Income from investments. When you are in mediation negotiations, you will need to be forthcoming with your investments, in both the amount of income they provide you and the amount of principal you have invested.

  • Retirement plans and pension profit sharing. A key factor in spousal support payments will be the amount of money either or both of you have saved for retirement. Spousal support can come in many forms, with investment accounts being divvied up or kept intact. Mediation will help you make the right decisions.

  • Educational opportunities. Depending on the professional and educational aims of each spouse, this could be a considering factor in a spousal support agreement.

  • Length of the marriage. The length of your marriage might affect your spousal support. Longer marriages that were more enmeshed can sometimes create more complicated mediations.

  • Age, physical ability, and mental condition of each spouse. If you have been a financial caregiver for a spouse that is significantly disabled or has extensive medical bills, this will come up in mediation. It is important that you be honest and completely forthcoming about all facets of your financial circumstances, and of you and your spouse’s health.

Divorce Mediation Associates, Ltd. is a dedicated group of family law mediators serving families throughout Northern Virginia, and we know how to guide you and your spouse toward an equitable and workable spousal support agreement. While extensive litigation can be expensive for everyone involved, mediation can help you and your spouse feel in control and respected in your negotiations. If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment to learn about our services, feel free to call 703-665-7592, or use our contact form. We look forward to working with you.