Statewide Spousal Support Guidelines In Virginia Divorces?

Posted on July 8th, 2011, by James Livesay in Divorce, Family Law. 2 comments

A recent op-ed published by The New York Times makes the argument that states should adopt set guidelines for determining alimony awards. The editorial, “Ending the Alimony Guessing Game,” argues that making spousal support awards more predictable would result in more fairness and less costly litigation.

This argument is absolutely correct. Adoption of a strong statewide spousal support formula in Virginia would take a lot of the guesswork out of most alimony cases, resulting in more settlements of contested divorce, and saving parties thousands of dollars in legal fees in many cases.

As I previously wrote on this blog, in Is It Really Cheaper To Keep Her (Or Him)?, Virginia law does seem to be moving toward more and more reliance on certain guidelines in determining spousal support– most commonly the so-called “Fairfax guidelines.” Virginia has now adopted the Fairfax guidelines statewide for determining spousal support in Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court cases.

If and when Virginia adopts those guidelines– or some other set of guidelines– for use in Circuit Court cases statewide, then we can start achieving more predictability, less litigation and lower attorney fees in contested divorces.

Whether we also have more fairness in spousal support awards will, of course, depend on the particular guidelines Virginia adopts. As I argued in Is It Really Cheaper To Keep Her (Or Him)?, the Fairfax guidelines seem to be rather favorable to the payor of support in most cases.

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Attorney James Livesay is a Partner at Livesay & Myers. After graduating from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1998, he began his legal career in the Navy JAG Corps, before entering private practice as a Virginia family lawyer in 2001. Along with partner Kevin Myers, Mr. Livesay founded Livesay & Myers in 2003. Today he advises the attorneys in each of the firm’s three offices.


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