The Virginia legislature made major changes in the laws governing the modification of spousal support obligations that went into effect on July 1, 2018. It is important to understand this new law when drafting a spousal support agreement and if you are considering filing a modification request due to retirement.
How Modifications of Spousal Support Works If the Original Agreement Was Silent
Under the law prior to July 1, 2018, if a marital separation agreement or property separation agreement did not state whether an award of spousal support was modifiable due to a change of circumstances, the court would presume that the amount could not be modified. Under the new law, this rule is dramatically changed. Now, if an agreement is executed after July 1, 2018, and is silent on whether spousal support is modifiable, the court must modify the spousal support payment if there is a material change of circumstances.
Retirement Can Be a Change of Circumstances Allowing Spousal Support Changes
Until the recent change in the law, it was unclear whether a person’s retirement could be considered a material change of circumstances justifying a change in his spousal support obligations. Under the new law, the payer’s attainment of “full retirement age” shall be considered a material change of circumstances. Here are some key points about the legislative changes:
- Full retirement age is defined as the age when the person is eligible for full benefits under the Federal Social Security Act.
- The court must consider certain factors when deciding whether to grant a modification of spousal support due to retirement. Whether the retirement was voluntary or mandatory, the current age and health of both parties, and the assets and property of both spouses are some of these considerations.
- When issuing an order granting or reserving spousal support, the order must state whether the judge took into account the retirement of either party and what factors, if any, were contemplated.
Are you receiving or paying spousal support in Virginia? Our experienced family law attorneys are here to explain how these law changes could affect you. To learn more or to discuss other questions regarding your divorce, call our office today to schedule your free initial consultation.