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Virginia Divorce Laws Continued

Virginia Divorce Laws


Alimony / Spousal Support / Maintenance:

The court, in its discretion, may decree that maintenance and support of a spouse be made in periodic payments for a defined duration, or in periodic payments for an undefined duration, or in a lump sum award, or in any combination thereof. The court, in determining whether to award support and maintenance for a spouse, shall consider the circumstances and factors which contributed to the dissolution of the marriage, specifically including adultery and any other ground for divorce. In determining the nature, amount and duration of an award pursuant to this section, the court shall consider the following:

  • The obligations, needs and financial resources of the parties, including but not limited to income from all pension, profit sharing or retirement plans, of whatever nature.
  • The standard of living established during the marriage.
  • The duration of the marriage.
  • The age and physical and mental condition of the parties and any special circumstances of the family.
  • The extent to which the age, physical or mental condition or special circumstances of any child of the parties would make it appropriate that a party not seek employment outside of the home.
  • The contributions of each party to the well-being of the family.
  • The property interests of the parties, both real and personal, tangible and intangible.
  • The provisions made with regard to the marital property division.
  • The earning capacity, including the skills, education and training of the parties and the present employment opportunities for persons possessing such earning capacity.
  • The opportunity for, ability of, and the time and costs involved for a party to acquire the appropriate education, training and employment to obtain the skills needed to enhance his or her earning ability.
  • The decisions regarding employment, career, economics, education and parenting arrangements made by the parties during the marriage and their effect on present and future earning potential, including the length of time one or both of the parties have been absent from the job market.
  • The extent to which either party has contributed to the attainment of education, training, career position or profession of the other party.
  • Such other factors, including the tax consequences to each party, as are necessary to consider the equities between the parties.

[Based on Code of Virginia, Title 20, Section 20-107.1]

Virginia Child Custody Laws:

In determining custody, the court shall give primary consideration to the best interests of the child. The court shall assure minor children of frequent and continuing contact with both parents, when appropriate, and encourage parents to share in the responsibilities of rearing their children. As between the parents, there shall be no presumption or inference of law in favor of either, and the court may award joint custody or sole custody. In determining best interests of a child for purposes of determining custody or visitation arrangements, the court shall consider the following:

  • The age and physical and mental condition of the child, giving due consideration to the child's changing developmental needs.
  • The age and physical and mental condition of each parent.
  • The relationship existing between each parent and each child, giving due consideration to the positive involvement with the child's life, the ability to accurately assess and meet the emotional, intellectual and physical needs of the child.
  • The needs of the child, giving due consideration to other important relationships of the child, including but not limited to siblings, peers and extended family members.
  • The role that each parent has played and will play in the future, in the upbringing and care of the child.
  • The propensity of each parent to actively support the child's contact and relationship with the other parent, including whether a parent has unreasonably denied the other parent access to or visitation with the child.
  • The relative willingness and demonstrated ability of each parent to maintain a close and continuing relationship with the child, and the ability of each parent to cooperate in and resolve disputes regarding matters affecting the child.
  • The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of reasonable intelligence, understanding, age and experience to express such a preference.
  • Any history of family abuse.
  • Such other factors as the court deems necessary and proper to the determination.

[Based on Code of Virginia, Title 20, Section 20-124.2 and 124.3]

Child Support:

Virginia uses the "Income Shares" model as the base for determining child support. This method bases the level of support on the combined income of both parents. There shall be a rebuttable presumption in any judicial or administrative proceeding for child support, including cases involving split custody or shared custody, that the amount of the award which would result from the application of the guidelines is the correct amount of child support to be awarded. In any proceeding on the issue of determining child support, the court shall have the authority to order a party to provide health care coverage for dependent children if reasonable under all the circumstances and health care coverage for a spouse or former spouse. In any proceeding on the issue of determining child support, the court shall have the authority to order a party to:

  1. Maintain any existing life insurance policy on the life of either party provided the party so ordered has the right to designate a beneficiary.
  2. Designate a child or children of the parties as the beneficiary of all or a portion of such life insurance for so long as the party so ordered has a statutory obligation to pay child support for the child or children.

[Based on Code of Virginia, Title 20, Section 20-108.1]

Premarital Agreement:

A premarital agreement shall be in writing and signed by both parties. Such agreement shall be enforceable without consideration and shall become effective upon marriage. [Based on Code of Virginia, Title 20, Section 20-149]]

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