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Seeking a spousal support modification when life changes

When a couple in Virginia divorces, it is not unusual for one spouse to pay spousal support to the other spouse. However, sometimes a spousal support order that works for both parties when they divorce, does not work so well years down the road. When this happens, either party can move the court to modify the spousal support award. If there is a material change in circumstances, a spousal support award can go up, down or end after the court considers a number of statutory factors.

Each spouse’s obligations, needs and financial resources may be considered. The standard of living the couple enjoyed while married may be considered. Other considerations include how long the spouses were married and each spouse’s age and health.

Each spouse’s contributions to the family — both financial and nonfinancial — may be considered. In addition, each spouse’s property interests may be considered. Each spouse’s earning capacity may be considered, as may any time it may take for a party to receive the education or training needed to enhance his or her earning capacity. If one spouse stayed out of the workforce while married, this may be considered as well. Finally, the extent to which one spouse contributed to the other spouse’s attainment of a professional degree or career position will be considered.

There are many reasons why a spouse may seek to modify a spousal support award. Changes in either spouse’s income, a remarriage or changes in the financial needs of either spouse could lead one of them to seek a spousal support modification. Courts in Virginia will fairly assess such requests and make appropriate rulings per the confines of the law.

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