Major Change to Spousal Support in Virginia Divorces
A contested Virginia divorce (one where one or more issues need determination by the court) can easily take up to a year. A spouse in a contested divorce case who needed financial assistance would not have to wait until the end of the case to receive spousal support; instead, a spouse could seek pendente lite (temporary) spousal support early in the divorce case. Under existing law (until July 2020), there was no formula or other easy way for a divorce court to determine how much temporary spousal support was needed. As a result, a huge amount of evidence needed to be presented to the court about how much support was needed; accordingly, pendente lite hearings were often long and very expensive.
Under a new law going into effect July 2020, the court, in a pendente lite hearing will now use a formula to determine temporary support. For a couple having minor children, the formula is 26% of the payor’s gross income minus 58% of the payee’s gross income. For a couple with no minor children, the formula is 27% of the payor’s income minus 50% of the payee’s gross income. The formula should make the process of obtaining temporary spousal support much easier and much less expensive.
There are two major exceptions. First, the formula will not be used if the couple has a combined gross monthly income of more than $10,000. Second, the court may also, if it finds good cause to do so, award spousal support in an amount higher or lower than the amount resulting from the formula. When a formula is available however, such as in child support cases, courts often simply award the formula amount. Accordingly, more than likely under the new law courts will likely simply use the formula.