Virginia Code Section 20-103 provides that in any case where spousal support or child support is in dispute, a Virginia court may enter an order of temporary support pending the conclusion of the suit. Section 20-103 applies in suits for divorce, annulment, and separate maintenance and also in spousal support and child support proceedings brought in the juvenile and domestic relations district court (“JDR Court”).
Such a “pendente lite” order of support will last until the conclusion of the case, at which time the court may order more or less support, or no support at all, depending upon the facts of the case.
For child support, the statewide guidelines, which establish a “presumptively correct” amount of support, apply equally at both pendente lite and final hearings.
For spousal support, a JDR Court that is determining a request for pendente lite spousal support must use certain statewide guidelines to arrive at a presumptively correct amount of spousal support where the combined monthly gross incomes of the parties do not exceed $10,000. If the parties have no minor children in common, the presumptive amount of the award will be the difference between 30 percent of the payor’s monthly gross income and 50 percent of the payee’s monthly gross income. If they have minor children in common, the presumptive amount of the award will be the difference between 28 percent of the payor’s monthly gross income and 58 percent of the payee’s monthly gross income. The court may deviate from the presumptively correct amount for good cause.
Example: assume Husband and Wife have no children, Husband earns $8,000 per month, and Wife earns $2,000 per month. At a pendente lite spousal support hearing in JDR Court, the statewide guidelines would apply. The presumptive amount of spousal support per those guidelines would be $1,400 per month: ($8,000 x .30) – ($2,000 x .50).
At “pendente lite” spousal support hearings in Circuit Court cases, depending upon the jurisdiction, the court may apply the same set of guidelines as those described above, or a different set of guidelines, or no guidelines at all.
Finally, a JDR Court or Circuit Court may give some weight to “pendente lite” spousal support guidelines even in a final hearing on spousal support. For a discussion of that topic, and in general of how courts determine spousal support, see our prior blog posting, Is It Really Cheaper to Keep Her (Or Him)?
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The family lawyers at Livesay & Myers, P.C. represent clients in Woodbridge, Fairfax, Alexandria, Arlington, Manassas, Stafford, Spotsylvania and Fredericksburg, Virginia. If you require assistance with an annulment or any other family law matter in Virginia, contact us to schedule a consultation today.