By David L. Duff of Duff & Kronfeld, P.C. posted in Family Law on Tuesday, April 24, 2018.
When a marriage breaks up, often the most significant, and time-urgent, issue involves the establishment of a flow of money from one spouse/parent to the other. Whether you are dealing with monthly support for minor children, or monthly support for a spouse, or both, it is crucial to know the various options that are available to get the monthly income started.
If a suit for divorce has been filed, then it is an easy, and relatively quick, process to appear before a judge of the Circuit Court and request what is known as “pendente lite,” or interim, child and/or spousal support. The theory is that the amount of support that is awarded at such a preliminary hearing, is intended to be sufficient to keep both parties “financially afloat,” until the final divorce hearing.
A far more common situation involves parties who have separated from each other, but no divorce action has yet been filed, either because legal grounds for divorce do not exist, or the parties are simply not emotionally ready to finally terminate their marriage. How does the spouse-in-need obtain financial support under such a situation? Virginia law provides two (2) possible options, namely (1) a Separate Maintenance suit in the Circuit Court; or (2) a Petition for child and/or spousal support in the Juvenile & Domestic Relations (J&DR) Court:
1. Separate Maintenance . . . This is a legal action where the initiating party is simply saying “Judge, my spouse and I are separated. I am not seeking a divorce at this time, but while we are living separate and apart from each other, I need my spouse to pay support for myself and/or our children.” A brief hearing will be conducted rather promptly in order to establish the payment of pendente lite, or interim, support.
2. J&DR Court . . . A different approach would be for the initiating spouse to file a Petition for Spousal Support, and/or a Petition for Child Support, in the Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court. This Court tends to be more user-friendly than the Circuit Court, and “accessibility to the general public” is its goal.
Of course, there is no good reason why two people, who have decided to separate from each other, cannot simply agree between themselves on an appropriate amount of support to be paid, and avoid involving the court system all together!
If you have an issue that involves spousal support, and/or child support, call one of the attorneys at Duff & Kronfeld, P.C. for a complimentary, 30-minute telephone consultation.