Is there any kind of formula used to determine Virginia spousal support?

Posted on Sep 16, 2010 by Katie Carter

Virginia does not have an official, state-wide formula that is used to determine the amount of spousal support that you will receive. However, different courts have developed their own formulas to help quickly, easily, and equitably determine temporary and long-term Virginia spousal support orders. Currently, Fairfax, Richmond, and Harrisonburg use formulas when determining the amount of Virginia spousal support as part of a Virginia divorce, and sometimes we “borrow” one or another of those formulas.

Because there is no local or statewide standard, our judges don’t have to use any formula at all. Sometimes, we use Fairfax, Richmond, or Harrisonburg to provide a guideline, especially at temporary support hearings. At these hearings, there is really not time to spend hours deliberating or looking at the statutory factors governing whether support should be awarded. Because most divorces are settled out of court, the parties themselves usually reach an agreement with respect to permanent spousal support anyway. If you find yourself in court for a divorce trial, the court will take more time to listen to evidence and weigh the statutory factors before awarding (or denying) spousal support permanently.

So how could spousal support be determined?

Prepare yourself: there’s math involved. In order to determine who would receive spousal support (and how much), we have to look at the incomes of both parties. If your incomes are too close, you won’t receive support (or the number will be ridiculously low). A good way to give yourself a general idea of what kind of support you may be entitled to receive is to use the Fairfax formula.

The Fairfax court looks at the following figures:

  1. Paying spouse’s income x 28%
  2. Receiving spouse’s income x 58%
  3. Line 1 minus Line 2 is the amount of suggested Virginia spousal support

Keep in mind that there are many other factors at play in a spousal support case. The court is absolutely going to look at the statutory factors, and length of marriage plays a pretty significant role in determining how long you’ll receive support.