Virginia Spousal Support Calculations
On Monday, we talked about how child support is calculated and how the law determines exactly who is responsible for paying it. Like we discussed on Monday, sometimes child support is a little misleading – it’s not always the parent who has the child more who receives support. It’s really highly dependent on how much each party earns and how much time they have with the child. Theoretically, it is possible for the parent who has the child less often to receive child support from the parent who spends more time with the child. It doesn’t normally happen, because this would take a very large disparity of income, but it could certainly happen! Even more unlikely, it’s also theoretically possible that NO child support could be awarded—if the amount of income the two parties earned and the amount of time they spent with the child more or less equalized their child support obligation. But you’re not here today to learn about child support. (If you are, for whatever reason, interested in how child support is calculated and how the law determines which party is responsible for paying support, you should definitely ready Monday’s article by clicking here.) You’re here today to learn about Virginia spousal support calculations.
Today, we’re here to talk about Virginia spousal support calculations. In a lot of ways, Virginia spousal support works very differently from child support. For one thing, though we have software that helps us calculate support, it’s not binding on our local courts. It’s helpful, but mostly because it helps inform us of what might possibly be awarded—though ultimately it could be less or more.
Since there’s no formula, it’s not like child support in that whatever pops out of the software program at the end is treated with reverence by attorneys and judges. We know full well it’s not binding—though it is often very, very helpful. At the very least, it puts us in the ballpark.
The point of this article really isn’t to go through the factors that help you determine whether you’ll qualify to receive Virginia spousal support. That’s a much longer discussion and, if you’re interested, you’ll probably want to read my article on Virginia spousal support, too. That’s definitely the starting point. In this article, I am already assuming that you qualify to receive it—at least for a period of time.
Today, my goal is mostly to educate you about what you might expect to receive if you do qualify to receive Virginia spousal support. Since we don’t have anything that is binding on us, though, keep in mind that what you might actually receive might be different. I’m also working from examples here, so your income might look a little different—but still, it should sort of give you an idea of what to expect when it comes to an award of spousal support.
Any other ancillary issues—like whether you’ll receive support at all, and then, if so, for how long—are entirely separate. You can read up on those topics by clicking here. Keep in mind, too, that what we’re talking about here is spousal support that is paid monthly. Though there are different types of spousal support (lump sum, rehabilitative, etc), most of the time spousal support is a monthly obligation. For more information on the different types of spousal support and how they are awarded, click here.
As a general guideline, here is the formula we use when we want to get an idea of what spousal support might be (when we do it by hand, of course—most of the time we do it on the computer with complicated software).
Payor’s Income x 28%
Payee’s income X 58%
Line A minus Line B equals proposed spousal support
You can use that to apply to your individual situation (again, keeping in mind that yours may look different). But let’s look at some real world examples, calculated using my fancy schmancy lawyer software.
Example 1. Hilary and Bill are getting a divorce. Throughout the marriage, Bill has worked as a plumber, earning $50,000 a year. Hilary has stayed at home and earns no income. According to the Fairfax Guidelines, this would entitle Hilary to $1250 a month in support.
Example 2. Hilary and Bill are getting a divorce. Throughout the marriage, Hillary has worked as a book publisher in a small company, earning $50,000 a year. Bill stayed at home to raise their children, and earns no income. According to the Fairfax Guidelines, this would entitle Bill to $1250 a month in support. (Yes—it works both ways!)
Example 3. Hilary and Bill are getting a divorce. Throughout the marriage, Bill has worked as a computer software specialist, earning $50,000 a year. Hilary has worked as a paralegal in a law firm, also earning $50,000. According to Fairfax Guidelines, neither party would qualify to receive spousal support in this situation.
Example 4. Hilary and Bill are getting a divorce. Throughout the marriage, Bill has worked as deckhand on a tug boat in the local harbor, earning $90,000 a year. Hilary has worked as a third grade teacher, earning $60,000. According to Fairfax Guidelines, neither party would qualify to receive spousal support in this situation. The disparity in income just isn’t severe enough.
Example 5. Hilary and Bill are getting a divorce. Throughout the marriage, Bill has worked as a firm manager at a small personal finance firm, earning $120,000 a year. Hilary has worked as a graphic designer, earning $60,000 a year. According to Fairfax Guidelines, this would entitle Hilary to $500 a month in spousal support.
Example 6. Hilary and Bill are getting a divorce. Throughout the marriage, Bill has worked as a plastic surgeon, earning $500,000 a year. Hilary has worked as a part time art teacher at a local private school, earning $20,000 a year. According to Fairfax Guidelines, this would entitle Hillary to $11,667 a month in spousal support.
Example 7. Hilary and Bill are getting a divorce. Throughout the marriage, Bill has owned his own business, earning $500,000 a year. Hilary has worked as a personal injury attorney, earning $150,000 a year. According to Fairfax Guidelines, this would entitle Hilary to $6,250 a month in spousal support.
As you can probably already tell, spousal support awards can vary dramatically. It can be paid to a husband or a wife, depending on the circumstances. It can also be awarded at a very high level, even when the spouse earning less earns a pretty solid salary all on his or her own.
Of course, there also has to be a fairly solid disparity in income for Virginia spousal support to be awarded at all.
Spousal support cases are complicated. Spousal support isn’t automatically awarded, and there isn’t an exact formula that represents how much spousal support a person will be awarded. Still, if you’re wondering about spousal support in your case, this article should help you form an idea about what your award of spousal support might look like.
Keep in mind that spousal support can ultimately be awarded in one of two different ways – either it’s negotiated in an agreement, or it’s awarded by the judge. That definitely affects how much support you’ll receive. Will the judge be sympathetic to you? Or do you think it’s possible to negotiate with him and receive a higher amount of support? Does he feel guilty? Will he be generous—or not—in your negotiations? Maybe you’re better off taking your chances with the judge. It’s always an analysis based on the factors relevant to your case, but awards can vary pretty dramatically.
For more information, or to schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys to get a specific amount of Virginia spousal support calculated in your particular case, give our office a call at (757) 425-5200.