When a couple in Virginia decides to end their marriage, each party may have concerns about their financial future. Virginia courts recognize that sometimes, to preserve equity, it is necessary award spousal support.
Spousal support is meant to make sure each party enjoys a certain standard of living; it is not meant to be punitive. There are several types of spousal support that may be awarded when couples in Virginia divorce.
One type of spousal support is periodic payments for an undefined duration. In this type of award, the higher-earning party will pay the lower-earning party a certain amount on a periodic basis (for example, monthly), but there is not a specific end date. However, such awards may end if certain events occur, such as the death of either party or if the party receiving support remarries or cohabitates with another person in a marriage-like manner. This type of award may be appropriate if the parties had been married for a long time, or if the receiving spouse is limited in his or her ability to obtain a job.
Another type of spousal support is periodic payments for a defined duration. In this type of award, the higher-earning party will pay the lower-earning party a certain amount on a periodic bases (again, usually monthly), but there is a specific end date to the award. For example, the award may end after 10 years. However, such awards can end earlier if certain events such as remarriage or death occur. This type of award is meant to help out the receiving spouse financially until he or she can become self-supporting.
Finally, there is a lump-sum award of spousal support. As the name implies, in this type of award the higher-earning spouse will pay a set amount to the lower-earning spouse. This payment may be made all at once, or the higher-earning spouse may pay it in installments. The main point is that the total amount of spousal support to be paid is known.
Courts in Virginia are free to base a spousal support award on any one of these three types of support or it could combine one or more of these types of divorce if that best meets the needs of both parties. In the end, it is important that spousal support allows the receiving-earning spouse to maintain a certain lifestyle without impoverishing the paying spouse.