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How Long Will I Be Required To Pay Alimony?

By David L. Duff of Duff & Kronfeld, P.C. posted in Family Law on Thursday, March 31, 2016.

Assuming that circumstances dictate that one spouse pay spousal support (i.e., alimony) to the other spouse, then Virginia law authorizes judges to order that such support be payable either: (1) indefinitely (commonly referred to as “permanent alimony”); or (2) for a defined duration (commonly referred to as “limited alimony”).

“Permanent alimony” is actually a misnomer, since in reality, such support merely continues until there has been some material change in a party’s circumstances that would warrant a modification in the amount of support. Absent some significant change in circumstances, however, this form of alimony will continue to be paid, at least until the payor spouse retires, and thereafter, albeit at a lesser amount. Marriages of more than 20 years generally result in an award of “permanent alimony”.

“Limited alimony” will be ordered to be paid for a specific number of years, after which any requirement to pay spousal support will be forever terminated. Generally, this form of alimony is used by the Court when the marriage has been relatively brief in duration (i.e., less than 10 years); and, the duration for payment of support will generally fall somewhere between half the length of the marriage, and the total length of the marriage.

The “gray area”, of course, involves marriages that last more than 10 years, but less than 20 years. In these situations, the Court will weigh many factors, including: Whether one spouse sacrificed his/her career to raise children, or to assist the other spouse in advancing his/her career; and, the ability of the recipient spouse to earn an income sufficient to meet his/her own financial needs.

Obviously, the difference between paying alimony “permanently” or for a limited period of time, will have huge financial impact upon the payor spouse. If you find yourself in a situation involving either the payment of alimony, or the receipt of alimony, and require legal assistance, call one of the attorneys at The Duff Law Firm for a complimentary 30-minute consultation. (703) 591-7475.

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