Spousal Support Lawyers in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.
In marriage, it is rare that both parties come into the relationship as financial equals and remain so. Generally, one spouse will have higher earnings than the other and take on a larger portion of the household bills. This can create significant hardships on the other spouse when the marriage ends. Spousal support (also known as “alimony”) is meant to even the playing field.
The family law attorneys at Gowen Silva & Winograd PLLC help clients in Washington D.C., Maryland, and Northern Virginia with spousal support matters. As your attorneys, we want to understand your concerns and promise to fight for your legal rights and financial wellbeing. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.
Different Types of Alimony
Spousal support is not automatic in a divorce case. But in some relationships, the responsibilities and income distribution are so inequitable that the courts will order different types of payments. And what is permitted varies by state. Depending on your jurisdiction, you may be entitled to these types of alimony:
This is spousal support paid during the period between the start of the separation and the final order for divorce. Its purpose is to help one spouse remain self-sufficient during the process, and a different type of alimony may be awarded later.
In cases where one spouse is not able to be self-sufficient, this temporary alimony is meant to help get them there. It gives a spouse time to find a job, go back to school, or do anything else that will help them pay their own bills. It is awarded for either a set period or reviewed at intervals.
Although less common now, permanent spousal support is still awarded in some cases where there is a breakup of a long-term marriage, a finding of significant wrongdoing, and/or a large disparity among the two incomes that might not ever change.
In a situation where one spouse put the other through college or a work-related program, and this resulted in a lucrative job, the courts might order that reimbursement alimony is paid.
A lump-sum payment may be awarded to a spouse instead of property or other assets during the divorce. In general, there won’t be an award for other types of spousal support if a lump sum is paid.
Spousal Support Payments
Our family law attorneys regularly help clients throughout the D.C. metro area obtain spousal support as well as defend clients that don’t believe they should have to pay alimony. We have experience and a strong understanding of the laws in these jurisdictions.
Washington D.C.’s spousal support laws state the courts will consider “all relevant factors” in considering an equitable and fair award for alimony. Some of these factors include, but are not limited to:
- The length of the marriage
- The income of each party
- Whether the parties can support themselves
- Age of the parties
- Financial needs of the parties
- The physical and mental condition of each party
- Child support
- The established standard of living during the marriage
Alimony in D.C. can be temporary or permanent, but temporary spousal support is the most common form. It is also possible, and even likely, that adultery will impact a spousal support decision.
In Maryland, a spouse can receive an award for temporary, rehabilitative, or permanent support from the other party. But permanent support is only awarded if the court finds that:
- The party requesting support can’t become self-supporting due to illness, disability, age, or infirmity; or
- The party has made progress towards becoming self-supporting, but there will still be an unconscionably disparate standard of living between the two parties.
When awarding alimony in Maryland, the court may also consider fault, such as abandonment, abuse, or adultery.
Virginia refers to alimony only as “spousal support.” There is no calculation formula for this based on statute, but instead, the court will review each couple’s situation before making an appropriate determination. Some of the factors the court will consider include:
- The duration of the marriage
- Each party’s income and earning capacity
- Each party’s expenses
- The age of both parties
- How property was divided during the divorce
- Contributions a party made to the other’s career and education
- Standard of living during the marriage
- Physical or mental conditions or limitations
- Tax consequences
Most spousal support in Virginia is temporary, although an award for permanent support is still possible. In some cases, a person may be barred from receiving spousal support if it is proven that they committed adultery.
Spousal Support Modifications and Enforcement
In most cases, alimony will end if the recipient remarries or either spouse dies. It can also terminate or be modified if the court finds that there was a material change in circumstances. The exception is if there was a voluntary agreement for spousal support that doesn’t allow for modifications.
Justifying a change in spousal support, whether the amount paid or the length of time of the agreement, will require a strong argument in front of the court. A skilled spousal support attorney can review your circumstances and help protect your rights.
Alimony can be paid directly between the parties or by an earnings withholding order, which is the equivalent of wage garnishment. When an ex-spouse fails to pay the required support, this is the same as defying a court order, and there are consequences. If you are owed money, you should contact a family law attorney that can file a legal action to enforce your alimony payments.
Speak with a Qualified Washington D.C. Spousal Support Attorney
At Gowen Silva & Winograd PLLC, our family law attorneys understand that every divorce is different, meaning no two spousal support cases will look alike. If you are going through a divorce or anticipate that your marriage might end, it is vital that you thoroughly examine the financial aspects of these decisions.
Our team of experienced family law attorneys understands that your assets and lifestyle are important to you. We want to help minimize the change you’ll experience as much as possible by ensuring that you are treated fairly throughout this process.
Contact our office now at 202-408-5400 or reach out to us online to schedule a confidential consultation.