This year, the Virginia legislature made significant changes to the spousal support laws in the state. Under the previous law, if a divorce provided for spousal support, otherwise known as alimony, but did not contain a clause for future modification if there was a material change in circumstance, the amount was fixed and could not be changed by the court. With the new legislation, effective July 1 this year, if a divorce decree in Virginia is silent as to modification for future changes in circumstances then it is assumed that the spousal support can be changed in the future if changed circumstances warrant the change.
The second significant change to Virginia spousal support laws this year is that retirement at age 67 years old is now considered a material change in circumstances for the purposes of spousal support. The new law considers retirement at that age one of six new factors that the judge is allowed to consider when determining whether there should be a change in spousal support amounts. Other factors include whether retirement was considered when the divorce decree was made, whether retirement was voluntary or mandatory, how significant the change is in income to both former spouses, and the age and health of the parties, among other factors.
These state level changes come in addition to federal changes to spousal support deductions for 2019. Under the new federal tax code for new agreements and orders entered into in and after 2019, spousal support will no longer be deductible for the payor on their federal income tax returns, changing the landscape of alimony payments and divorce negotiations nationwide in the new year.
Virginia Spousal Support
Spousal support in Virginia is intended to help one spouse avoid financial hardship after a divorce and is not meant as a punishment for one spouse or the other. Alimony can either be determined by the spouses in a divorce agreement or by the judge. If determined by the court, the judge will look at a number of factors, which can include the obligations and needs of each spouse, their standard of living, duration of the marriage, physical and mental condition of the spouses, contributions to the marriage, earning capacity, tax consequences, and the reason for the end of the marriage. Under Virginia law, if the reason for the divorce is adultery, the spouse that committed the act may be barred from receiving spousal support payments, subject to some exceptions.
With the new changes to spousal support modifications, both paying and receiving spouses have an opportunity to benefit under the law. With people living longer than ever it is incredibly important that the legislature has now enacted factors for the courts and parties to consider that in how retirement will affect future support.
Contact Our Office Today
If you have questions regarding a modification of your Virginia spousal support payment, our experienced divorce attorneys are here to help. Call the office or contact us today at Duff & Kronfeld in Fairfax to schedule a consultation of your legal needs.