Our laws which govern spousal support were modified on July 1, 1998 in Virginia. The Court can now award rehabilitative spousal support for a period of time based upon certain factors such as the education, training, employment history, decisions made regarding the care of the children, and physical and mental health of the party seeking support. The parties can also contract, in a Property Settlement Agreement, to any arrangement of spousal support they desire. If the parties do not reach an agreement regarding spousal support, the Court can set support for a period of time or until the death of one of the parties, remarriage or cohabitation pursuant to Virginia law.
On the other hand, child support is governed by statute and is based on the gross incomes (real or imputed) of both parents. If one parent is earning substantially less than he or she could reasonably earn, additional income may be imputed to that parent. The child support guidelines are designed to provide a child with the amount of support needed to provide for his or her food, shelter, clothing, medical needs, etc. based upon the parents’ joint gross income. Generally, payment of child support extends until the child graduates from high school or reaches the age of nineteen, whichever occurs first.