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If an acceptable agreement cannot be reached between the parties in divorce proceedings, spousal support is determined by the court (if applicable).

Spousal support is sometimes referred to as alimony. Courts follow a series of factors in determining the amount of spousal support, including:

  • ​Financial needs and resources of each spouse;
  • Age of each spouse;
  • Physical and mental condition of each spouse;
  • Financial contributions to the marriage;
  • Length of the marriage;
  • Standard of living established during the marriage.

In Virginia, for example, there are a number of options available to people seeking divorce and alimony, including:

  •  Permanent alimony – spousal support, in which payments are awarded until death or remarriage. Few states apart from Virginia still award permanent alimony.
  •  Rehabilitative alimony – spousal support, in which payments are awarded only for a predetermined period of time.

Spousal Support Enforcement

Once the court determines spousal support, a court order is established to ensure enforcement. If the person paying alimony does not honor the terms of the order, he or she can be found in contempt of court. If there are any changes in the ex-spouses’ financial situations, the proper course of action is to petition the court for a modification of spousal support.