Washington, DC asked in Divorce and Family Law for Virginia

Q: Under what grounds can I reopen a PSA in Virginia?

I have been paying spousal support since 2017, via court order, and do not think that it should continue indefinitely. Was fully divorced in 2019 and the order became part of the PSA. My ex has the ability to work (she held 10 jobs during the marriage) but refuses to or simply does not attempt to look for work in any form.

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1 Lawyer Answer
James H. Wilson Jr.
James H. Wilson Jr.
  • Glen Allen, VA
  • Licensed in Virginia

A: There are two bases for spousal support: 1. an award by the court; or 2. a stipulation by the parties. An award by the court may be modified upon a material change in circumstances not anticipated by the parties, or the nonoccurrence of a change anticipated by the parties at the time of the award. An award by the court terminates upon the death of either party, the remarriage of the payee, or cohabitation by the payee with another in a relationship analogous to marriage for at least 1 year.

Previously, a stipulation as to spousal support was not modifiable unless it so stated. (A stipulation may have the title of a marital agreement, separation agreement, property settlement agreement, postnuptial agreement, premarital agreement, or antenuptial agreement.) The law was changed, and now, any stipulation entered into on or after July 1, 2018 is modifiable, unless expressly prohibited by its terms. In general, the ex-spouses' rights are determined strictly in accordance with the terms of the stipulation. A final decree of divorce or court order must be in accordance with the stipulation or contract. A stipulation or separation agreement may be set aside or voided for unconscionability, fraud or duress, or lack of capacity to contract.

Anyone interested in modifying an existing support obligation should consult with an experienced Virginia family law lawyer.

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