Back in February 2020, before the current COVID-19 pandemic essentially shut-down the nation, a Chesterfield, VA couple’s divorce case proved to be a game changer when it comes to the subject of spousal support in Virginia. In it, a court ruling was made that would allow judges to consider more than just the legal grounds for a divorce when making a ruling on support, thereby providing much needed clarity on an often muddy subject.

In this particular case, the parties both agreed to a “no-fault” divorce, which also included the wife filing a motion to bar her adultery from being brought up in the divorce proceedings. Since that was the case, the judge ruled that the wife would receive spousal support of $45,000 payable over a 5 year period.  Because the husband and wife had agreed to a no-fault divorce and her adultery would not be discussed, he did not expect to be ordered to pay her support.

Feeling that this just was not right, he appealed the decision. He believed that although barred from the divorce proceeding itself, the wife’s adultery was able to be discussed regarding spousal support in accordance with a 2016 amendment to the spousal support law.  It turned out that the appeals court agreed with him stating that anything which brought about dissolution of the marriage by either party should be taken into consideration.

The appellate court has sent the ruling back down to the trial court for reconsideration.  Its outcome could have a huge impact on spousal support arguments across the Commonwealth.  Consult with an experienced divorce attorney to see if this ruling may affect your divorce proceedings.