August 11, 2020

Volume X, Number 224

August 11, 2020

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August 10, 2020

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Will Spousal Support Ever End in Virginia?

In Virginia, there are several conditions that will terminate an award of spousal support (alimony) even if there is an agreement between the parties or an order of the court for spousal support.  Virginia Code Sections 20-109 and 20-110 outline those terminating conditions.  First, support terminates if either party dies.  While the party receiving spousal support may still have a need for support, the decedent’s estate will not be required to pay spousal support unless the parties provided an alternative, such as life insurance for the recipient or a specific agreement that the recipient would have a specific claim against the payor’s estate for a set amount.  Second, if the recipient remarries, spousal support terminates immediately.  In fact, the statute specifically puts the burden of disclosing the marriage on the recipient as an immediate obligation.  Third, the statute states that if the “spouse receiving support has been habitually cohabitating with another person in a relationship analogous to a marriage for one year or more. . . , the court shall terminate spousal support” unless the parties have contracted otherwise. The Virginia Code currently recognizes marriage to be between one woman and one man.  However, in a recent case, Luttrel v. Cucco (2016), the Supreme Court enlarged the “relationship analogous to a marriage” to include persons of the same sex.  Justice Mims of the Supreme Court of Virginia stated that “Virginia Code § 20-109(A) recognizes that an individual who has entered a committed, financially interdependent relationship with a third person is no longer dependent upon his or her ex-spouse in the same manner as when the agreement was executed. Therefore, it provides a mechanism designed to prevent one former spouse from obtaining a windfall at the expense of the other after the recipient has entered such a relationship.” 

Therefore, if your former spouse is living with a person of the same sex in a relationship for one year or more that is like a marriage then a court, upon request by the party paying support, shall terminate the support.  The burden of proving the relationship is analogous to marriage is on the party asking the court to end the spousal support.   Although the Virginia Code doesn’t recognize same sex marriages, Virginia has decided that a spouse ordered to pay spousal support should not have to continue that obligation if the former spouse receiving support is in a marriage-like relationship, no matter if it is a traditional or same sex relationship. 

© 2020 Odin, Feldman & Pittleman, P.C.National Law Review, Volume VI, Number 168


About this Author

Leslye Fenton, family law, real estate, attorney, Odin Feldman, law firm

As a seasoned lawyer and mediator, Leslye Fenton knows how to effectively communicate, negotiate, and resolve conflict. Her training in mediation combined with her legal skills enables her to help clients identify their goals and develop strategies to obtain their desired results. She believes in listening carefully to her clients to identify their key interests. She then provides them with a comprehensive understanding of the legal issues confronting them, and helps them determine how these interests can be protected and promoted. Leslye’s mediation training gives her a unique perspective...

David M. Zangrilli, Jr., Odin Feldman Law Firm, Family Law Attorney

A  family law attorney for over 10 years, David Zangrilli strives to meet each individual client’s specific needs in the most efficient, thorough, and cost-effective manner possible by providing sound advice, reasonable expectations, and zealous advocacy. David’s approach to his Family and Domestic law practice involves thoroughly educating his clients on the legal process, likely outcomes in court, and reasonable settlement options.  

J. Patrick McConnell, Odin Feldman Law Firm, Family Law Attorney

With more than 30 years of experience in Family & Domestic Relations law, Patrick McConnell represents clients who have particularly complicated matters that cross state or international boundaries, or that involve complex financial issues. His background in finance and knowledge of tax law provide insight that can lead to innovative solutions. When necessary, Patrick teams with an attorney from the firm’s Estate Planning or Corporate practice areas to assist with the preservation of wealth for his clients' children or their future generations.

Patrick is chair of the Family...

Kristina  A. Cruz, Family Law Attorney, Odin Feldman Law Firm

Kristina Cruz believes the best approach to assist her clients is to blend her legal knowledge with each individual client's unique personal objectives to ensure that every relationship is built upon a foundation of mutual trust and client input into the legal process. A background in journalism combined with powerful listening skills enable Kristina to understand the full extent of a family or domestic relation situation and communicate those matters succinctly and effectively in the courtroom. Clearly comprehending all aspects of each individual case gives Kristina the ability to...