Common Questions About Virginia Child Support and Alimony Addressed

Divorce can be a thorny process in a number of ways. Expert assistance can help ease the transition from married to single life, but divorcing parties nonetheless often have many questions and complaints about their rights within the divorce process.

Many such issues center around spousal support (known colloquially as "alimony") and child support. Although Fairfax family law lawyers are the best resource for resolving child or spousal support issues in Northern Virginia, anyone can benefit from a basic understanding of the pertinent state laws.

Child Support

In Virginia, the amount of child support to be paid by a noncustodial parent is typically determined by the application of a relatively rigid formula that takes into account the combined gross income of the parents and the number of children to be supported. Essentially, the higher the income and the more children there are, the greater the support award will be.

Deviation from the Virginia schedule of monthly basic child support obligations is possible when individual circumstances warrant it. The factors that may mean support obligations that differ from the standard guidelines (either higher or lower) include a written agreement between the parties concerning support, the extraordinary special needs of a particular child, independent financial resources of a child, the provision of health coverage and other benefits to a child by a parent, the actual custody arrangement, and other relevant factors.

Usually a noncustodial parent (in other words, the parent who does not care for the child most of the time) must pay support, as the custodial parent's day to day contributions are deemed to be more than equal to any money provided. Virginia law stipulates that children are only entitled to support until age 19 or graduation from high school, whichever occurs first.

Spousal Support

Unlike for child support, there is no standardized schedule to use as a starting point for determining the appropriate level of spousal support in Virginia. Of course, parties may agree to their own alimony arrangement. But, if no agreement can be reached, a Virginia court will look to many factors in setting (or denying) alimony, such as the respective financial need and ability to pay of the former spouses, the length of the marriage, each party's relative contribution to the marriage, the division of marital property and debt, each party's earning capacity, and the standard of living established during the marriage.

Under Virginia law, fault for the divorce is typically not relevant in setting spousal support. There is one exception, however: if a divorce is granted in favor of the spouse with means on the basis of adultery, no alimony may be awarded unless the court finds that a denial of spousal maintenance would be a "manifest injustice" based on the relative degrees of fault and the economic circumstances of the parties.

Contact a Virginia Lawyer

When negotiating with a former spouse to set child or spousal support amounts or making arguments pertaining to support in court, the services of an experienced attorney can make a world of difference. If you are going through a divorce, contact a Virginia attorney today to help ensure your divorce concludes with fair and reason support arrangements.