Alimony in WV is a court-ordered provision of financial support for a spouse after a divorce. West Virginia courts often have significant flexibility on a case-by-case basis in determining whether to award alimony, the amount, and how long alimony payments will continue.
Continue reading to learn what constitutes alimony in West Virginia.
How To Calculate Spousal Support West Virginia
Alimony calculation in West Virginia is done on a case-by-case basis and is largely left to the judge. In the majority of court cases, the final amount and duration of alimony are at the judge’s discretion. However, there are various factors that judges consider to determine the most appropriate amount and duration of alimony.
– Amount of Alimony
West Virginia alimony laws provide some guidelines for the calculation of the amount and duration of alimony.
According to the alimony laws in WV Code Sections: 48-6-301, 48-8-104, the court considers:
- Marriage duration – The longer the marriage, the more likely that spousal support will be ordered.
- Age and health of each spouse.
- Income of the spouses – the bigger the difference in income, the more likely that spousal support will be ordered.
- Income earning abilities of each of the parties.
- Standard of living the couple had while married one of the most important things to show the judge is that you have a financial need for support and your spouse can pay.
- Property awarded by agreement or by the court.
- Financial need of each party – the judge will look at how much money you need to support yourself and how much income you currently have. The judge will also consider your spouse’s financial situation and how much income your spouse would have available to pay Spousal Support.
WV courts consider marital misconduct when awarding alimony. Alimony will not be paid to a partner who is found to be adulterous, a convicted felon during the marriage, or spousal abandonment for six months.
West Virginia follows the Supreme Court’s capping of monthly installments, and thus, alimony is calculated as 25% of the paying partner’s gross salary. In the case of lump-sum payments, it usually ranges from 1/5th to 1/3rd of the husband’s net worth.
– Duration of Alimony
There are four types of spousal support allowed by WV courts.
- Permanent support can last for as long as the spouse lives and doesn’t remarry.
- Temporary support – or pendente lite spousal support – is short-term alimony that allows the recipient spouse to cover living expenses during the divorce.
- Gross support is lump-sum payments that the payor makes once or over a series of payments.
The duration of alimony is determined by a West Virginia judge. He or she may use a common standard that one year of alimony should be paid for every three years of marriage. However, this will greatly depend on the case brought before the court.
How To Pay Alimony in WV
The most common way of paying alimony in WV is making either periodic or lump sum payments. The judge can order that West Virginia spousal maintenance payments be taken directly from the spouse’s income. In cases where the income isn’t sufficient, the spouse may be mandated to transfer title or separate property.
However, this is very rare since courts never award more spousal support than what the spouse can afford. Failure to comply with a spousal support order is regarded as contempt of court, and the defaulter can be charged in court.
How To Avoid Paying Alimony in WV
A possible way of avoiding paying alimony is giving the court sufficient reasons why you shouldn’t pay. No one wants to pay unnecessarily high amounts of alimony. Normally, this can happen if spousal support is not waived according to WV divorce laws.
A waiver of support in the original divorce case is permanent, and neither side can come back later and petition the court for alimony no matter how much the circumstances have changed.
– Modification Of Alimony
A spouse seeking the modification of alimony should first confirm that WV alimony laws allow for it. In case the alimony agreement order doesn’t have such provisions, either spouse has the right to petition the court to either modify or end alimony payments.
To modify alimony, you can first try to work things out with your ex-spouse and see if the two of you can agree to modify the original court order. Once you come to a mutually agreeable alimony, submit it to the court for approval so that the judge could issue a new alimony order. A couple that fails to agree can then ask the court to intervene.
A paying spouse seeking the modification of alimony must prove to the court why such a petition is justifiable. West Virginia alimony laws allow for the modification of spousal support if either spouse undergoes an unforeseeable change such as involuntary job loss, illness, or disability.
A partner who voluntarily quits a job or accepts a new job with fewer responsibilities and reduced pay may not be granted a modification of alimony. The judge may view it as a tactic to pay less alimony to your spouse and thus refuse to modify alimony under such circumstances.
– Termination Of Alimony
Permanent alimony terminates when the dependent spouse remarries or cohabitates. However, rehabilitative support may continue as long the remarriage happens within the first four years of the rehabilitative period. Gross support does not stop after remarriage.
Permanent support terminates when either spouse dies unless the alimony agreement states otherwise. Rehabilitative support will stop only if the recipient dies or if the payor dies and the court is convinced that his or her estate can’t continue to pay alimony. Gross spousal support continues even after the death of either spouse.
– How Much Is Child Support in West Virginia?
Child support payments in West Virginia depend on the parent’s income. For example, a couple whose total gross income is below $550 will have the monthly child support set at $50. Ultimately, West Virginia courts decide on child support payments after considering factors such as the number of children, educational expenses, special needs, and other financial responsibilities of the parents.
Alimony is different from child support. Often, the dependent spouse is also the primary custodian, and so the paying spouse is obligated to meet his or her alimony payments and child support as well. A primary custodian who cannot be self-supporting owing to the children’s age or medical condition may be awarded a substantial amount of alimony by a court.
– How Much Does It Cost for a Divorce in West Virginia?
The court requires you to pay a fee for filing your divorce paperwork. The fee is set at around $135. If the two of you have a child together, an extra $25 is to be paid for the parent education class. An ex-spouse who can’t afford these fees may apply for a waiver. Also, you will be required to pay an initial attorney fee of about $1,800 to $12,000 in full before the case can be filed. Fees for contested divorce matters vary from case to case, with the average fee being $350 per hour.
– Is Alimony Taxable in WV?
Alimony payments are done monthly or quarterly are treated as revenue receipt, deductible by the payor, and counted as taxable income. Lump-sum alimony is viewed as a capital receipt, and hence it’s tax-free.
– Can Alimony Be Waived by a Prenuptial Agreement in WV?
WV courts may award spousal support if the couple had a prenuptial agreement. A prenuptial agreement is a contract between two people written before marriage and typically lists all the property each individual owns and the spouses’ property rights after divorce. The judge may decide to waive or limit rights to alimony depending on the contents of the prenuptial document.
– What Is Alimony Mediation in WV?
Alimony mediation is one of the avenues ex-spouses use to agree on alimony. Often, a WV alimony mediator is sought by the couple to help them come to a mutual agreement regarding alimony and other issues such as custody and assets division, and thus avoid a court process.
Deciding on the most appropriate alimony agreement is something the court has to grapple with before terminating a couple’s marriage. Here is a round-up of the important key points to note about alimony in West Virginia:
- West Virginia Courts allow married couples to request alimony in a divorce or legal separation.
- The paying spouse is required to make either periodic or lump sum payments.
- The duration of alimony payments is majorly dependent on the type of alimony awarded by the court.
- Alimony in West Virginia can be modified or terminated.
- Alimony payments are done monthly or quarterly are treated as revenue receipt, deductible by the payor, and counted as taxable income.
Judges in West Virginia enjoy great discretion in determining spousal support. However, spouses who desire to maintain control over the final award can negotiate and present a signed mutual alimony agreement to the court for approval and enforcement during and after their divorce.