You’ve made the difficult decision to pursue a divorce after years of marriage. You may have already finished the painful process of dividing your assets and arranging for custody of your children. Still, there is the issue of spousal and child support. For many, support agreements set the foundation for what life will look like in the future and the importance of an effective arrangement cannot be understated. Whether you are trying to negotiate support with your spouse or you are already facing court to have support determined, you need an experienced and skilled advocate who can represent your interests to meet your goals and achieve the best possible outcome.
Fairfax divorce attorney Alanna Williams has been offering spousal and child support guidance in Virginia since 1999, and she has helped many individuals secure the support they need to move forward with their lives. If you are in need of representation, call our Fairfax office today at 703-273-1000 to learn more and schedule a free consultation.
Support Agreements in a Virginia Divorce
Support is money paid to a former spouse during and/or after a divorce. Support falls under two main categories: spousal support (also called alimony) and child support. Each type of support aims to achieve different goals, but both are meant to ensure a fair financial arrangement between the former spouses.
In some cases, it is possible for the spouses to agree to support arrangements through negotiations. In many other cases, it becomes a decision for the courts. Either way, a support agreement can set the foundation for one’s financial success and stability in the future.
Whether you think you will have to pay support or you expect to receive support from your ex-spouse, it is important to have experienced legal guidance. A skilled lawyer can help you understand Virginia law and help you make a case for the support to which you are entitled.
Understanding Child Support in Virginia
Taking care of the children is often at the top of every parent’s priorities in a divorce. First, parents want time with their child that can be achieved through a custody arrangement. However, often it is the monetary support that can be just as important. Child support agreements can come in many different forms. While there are many mitigating factors, in Virginia, the courts generally follow what is known as the child support guideline. At its most basic, this guideline assesses:
- Each parent’s monthly gross income.
- Daycare expenses for the child or children.
- Monthly costs for the child’s health care insurance premium.
It is expected that parents fairly share the monetary costs of raising the child or children, but that can mean a number of different outcomes for different family situations. If parents do not equally share custody, it is usually expected that the parent who spends less time with physical custody of the child will make up that difference through payment to the other parent. Additionally, the courts do try to maintain the same standard of living for the child that he or she experienced before the divorce.
There can be significant tax consequences associated with child support. First, only one parent can claim the child as a dependent on the yearly income tax forms. Typically, the parent who had custody of the child for a larger part of the year is the parent recognized for tax purposes. However, it is possible to make tax considerations part of your support agreement. Also, child support payments are tax-free. Neither parent has to pay taxes on support payments, but the payments are also not deductible by the paying parent.
There are many complicating factors that can affect a child support agreement, but an experienced attorney can help you understand your rights and ensure that your child can be taken care of.
Spousal support, also known as alimony, is money paid to a former spouse. The purpose of spousal support is to prevent a non-wage earning or lower-wage earning spouse from suffering an undue economic hardship because of the divorce. This type of support assumes that the spouse sacrificed the ability to earn income for the good of the family during the marriage, most commonly in cases of stay-at-home parents.
There are many different ways the Virginia courts can award spousal support. The most common arrangements include:
- Permanent support. Also known as open-ended support, this type of payment sets a specific sum of money to be paid on an ongoing basis. This is most common after a long marriage or when the spouse will have difficult time entering the workforce.
- Rehabilitative support. This type of support is meant to continue just for as long as it take the former spouse to be able to support himself or herself. This may mean the former spouse takes classes or simply gains traction in the workforce.
- Lump sum. With permanent and rehabilitative support, there cannot be total set amount to be paid, as it cannot be determined how long the support will continue. A lump-sum payment can be paid to the spouse in different ways, but sets an exact figure that will be awarded.
- Temporary support. This type of support is meant to continue as long as the divorce process is ongoing only.
The court considers many different factors when determining spousal support, and unlike child support, the judge is given more discretion to set the payment amounts. Some common considerations include:
- Standard of living during the marriage.
- Length of the marriage.
- The age and physical condition of the spouses.
- The earning capacity of the spouses.
- The extent to which one has contributed to the education, training, position, or profession of the other spouse.
- Tax consequences to each spouse.
- The monetary and non-monetary contributions of the spouses to the family during the marriage.
Additionally, other factors can prevent a spouse from receiving support, such as in cases of adultery or abuse.
Call Our Fairfax Support Lawyer Today to Protect Your Future
Support issues can be both key to your security and open to broad interpretation by the courts. When your future and that of your children is at stake, it is important to have an experienced advocate who can make sure that your contributions to the marriage and children are valued.
At the Law Office of Alanna Williams, we understand the significant impact support arrangements can have, and we’ll use both our knowledge of the law and courtroom experience to fight for what you deserve. It’s time to start a new chapter in your life, and our legal team wants to help you protect your financial future so you can move forward with security and confidence. Call our Fairfax office today at 703-273-1000 to learn more about how we can help, or take a moment to fill out our online contact form for a prompt response from a member of our team.