Dannenbaum Law Firm, PLLC

Alimony During Separation And The Divorce Process

HOW MUCH ALIMONY OR SPOUSAL SUPPORT WILL I GET IN MY DIVORCE?

HOW MUCH ALIMONY OR SPOUSAL SUPPORT WILL I HAVE TO PAY IN MY DIVORCE?

IS THERE A FORMULA FOR DETERMINING THE AMOUNT OF ALIMONY OR SPOUSAL SUPPORT?

A critical issue in any separation or divorce is how much alimony or spousal support will you receive from your spouse, or the flip side, how much alimony or spousal support will you have to pay to your spouse. I will focus on alimony during the legal separation and divorce process.

Alimony and spousal support mean the same thing. Virginia statutes call it spousal support. Spousal support is a series of payments made by a spouse with higher gross income to the spouse with lower gross income. The amount is either ordered by the Court or agreed to by the parties. Spousal support may be ordered by the Court or agreed to by the spouses in some cases, but not every case.

Some Virginia Courts do use formulas in certain circumstances to set the amount of alimony in certain cases.

Fairfax County Circuit Court uses a formula to determine the "presumptive" amount for temporary (also called pendente lite) spousal support.

What does "temporary " or "pendente lite" spousal support mean? Temporary or pendente lite refers to the time period during of legal separation or a support or divorce is pending. If parties are legally separated and one party has higher gross income, then the other party can seek temporary or pendente lite spousal support during the legal separation and the divorce process.

The formula used depends on whether you and your spouse have minor children together.

If you have minor children together, Fairfax Circuit Courts uses the following formula to determine temporary spousal support (meaning the time from filing for spousal support until further order of the Court or agreement of the parties). The formula is 28% of the gross income of the spouse with higher income less 58% of the gross income of the spouse with lower income.

If you have no minor children together, Fairfax Circuit Court uses a slightly different formula to determine temporary spousal support: 30% of the gross income of the spouse with higher income less 50% of the gross income of the spouse with lower income.

Virginia Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Courts (JDR Court) use the same formula as Fairfax Circuit Courts for temporary spousal support for cases in which the parties' combined monthly gross income does not exceed $10,000.

In short, Virginia courts in Fairfax County and Juvenile and Domestic Relations Courts throughout Virginia use formulas to determine the presumptive amount for temporary spousal support. The formula amount is only "presumptive." The Judge can always deviate from the formula amount.

Here is the Virginia statute that applies to cases in Virginia's Juvenile and Domestic Relations Courts:

Virginia Code § 16.1-278.17:1. Formula for determination of pendente lite spousal support.

A. There shall be a presumption in any judicial proceeding for pendente lite [temporary] spousal support and maintenance under this title that the amount of the award that would result from the application of the formula set forth in this section is the correct amount of spousal support to be awarded. The court may deviate from the presumptive amount as provided in subsection D.

B. If the court is determining both an award of pendente lite spousal support and maintenance and an award of child support, the court shall first make a determination of the amount of the award of pendente lite spousal support, if any, owed by one party to the other under this section.

C. If the parties have minor children in common, the presumptive amount of an award of pendente lite spousal support and maintenance shall be the difference between 28% of the payor spouse's monthly gross income and 58% of the payee spouse's monthly gross income. If the parties have no minor children in common, the presumptive amount of the award shall be the difference between 30% of the payor spouse's monthly gross income and 50% of the payee spouse's monthly gross income. For the purposes of this section, monthly gross income shall have the same meaning as it does in section § 20-108.2, as amended.

D. The court may deviate from the presumptive amount for good cause shown, including any relevant evidence relating to the parties' current financial circumstances that indicates the presumptive amount is inappropriate.

E. The formula set forth in this section shall only apply to cases where the parties' combined monthly gross income does not exceed $10,000.

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