Given the increasing changes to both the law and society, this area of divorce law is in the process of great change. Under recent changes in the Virginia law, the fault of a spouse in causing a divorce may no longer be a complete bar to obtaining spousal support. However, the court will consider the cause of separation as a factor in determining whether or not to award spousal support.
Spousal support is not awarded to punish a guilty spouse. Rather, it is provided to lessen the financial impact of divorce on the party who is less financially independent. The amount awarded for support depends upon such factors as the respective ages of the parties, assets and earning potential of the parties and the duration and history of the marriage. The court may award spousal support in periodic payments and/or a lump. Periodic payments could be awarded for either a set number of years or an indefinite period of time.
Spousal support does not have to be awarded when the divorce is granted. Instead, the parties may seek a “reservation” of the right to seek spousal support in the future. This reservation will generally last for one half of the length of the marriage.