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How Virginia alimony is affected by the new federal tax law

By January 29, 2018July 22nd, 2019No Comments

By: Paul F. Nichols, Partner, Nichols Zauzig

The new 2018 federal tax bill will affect Virginia divorce agreements that include alimony, also known as spousal support, beginning January 1, 2019.Top Woodbridge Divorce Lawyer Paul Nichols

Currently, the Virginia alimony tax law allows the person providing spousal support to deduct the full amount of the alimony. The person receiving the alimony is taxed on that full amount.

Under the new bill, alimony will not be tax deductible for the payee, and the spouse receiving the alimony will no longer pay taxes on it.

This will take effect across Virginia and the United States for couples signing separation or divorce papers, beginning January 1, 2019.

Potentially contentious issue

When two people divorce, one of the former spouses may be required to pay alimony or spousal support to the other. Alimony awards in a divorce depend upon a number of factors, including the length of the marriage, the standard of living established during the marriage, discrepancy in earning power, and other relevant factors.

Alimony is often a contentious issue in a Virginia divorce, but the lawyers at Nichols Zauzig can help you understand and exercise your legal rights during an alimony dispute. We have successfully represented countless individuals seeking alimony or seeking to reduce or eliminate alimony during a divorce, and we will put our legal knowledge and expertise to work for you.

When is alimony awarded?

Alimony, or spousal support, is money paid from one spouse to another to provide financial support following the divorce.

For agreements and divorce instruments executed before January 1, 2019, for income tax purposes under IRS regulations, alimony is declared as income by the receiving spouse and the paying spouse may take a tax deduction for the amount paid.

For agreements and divorce instruments executed on or after January 1, 2019, alimony is no longer deductible for the payor spouse, and the receiving spouse no longer has to pay taxes on it. The divorcing parties may negotiate an alimony arrangement on their own or the court may award alimony.

Alimony is typically awarded in long-term marriages and in situations where one spouse is earning, or has the potential to earn, a higher income than the other. For instance, if one spouse has been a stay-at-home parent and the other has a successful career, the working spouse may be required to pay alimony to the non-working spouse.

What are the two types of alimony in Virginia?

Alimony takes two forms in Virginia: indefinite alimony and limited duration alimony. Indefinite alimony is alimony paid so long as both parties are living, unless or until the recipient remarries, is found to be living in a relationship analogous to marriage, or the court modifies or terminates the award for other reasons set out by statute.

Lifetime alimony is typically reserved for situations where there is a discrepancy in earning power that is unlikely to be resolved. For instance, if one spouse is disabled or has been out of the workforce for a long time and would be unable to increase his or her ability to earn a substantial living, then the court may award that spouse lifetime alimony. When is limited duration alimony awarded?

Limited duration alimony is usually awarded in situations where one spouse needs time to get back on his or her feet and increase his or her earning power. For example, if one spouse has the potential to return to work and earn a substantial income in a year or two when the children are grown, or if one spouse just needs a refresher class or a license renewal before he or she can begin working, then limited duration alimony may be appropriate.

Additionally, limited duration spousal support may be awarded after a shorter-term marriage, or where there is a major discrepancy in the divorcing spouses’ incomes. Limited duration alimony gives the recipient the support he or she needs while necessary, but recognizes that the support may not always be required.

Getting legal help

Alimony is extremely important to the recipients, but often aggravating to the payers. At Nichols Zauzig, we help clients to obtain alimony payments, as well as help clients to prevent, modify or reduce alimony payments.

About the Author:
Paul F. Nichols, AAML

Paul, a founding partner of Nichols Zauzig, has been practicing divorce and family law for over 40 years in Northern Virginia. He is a Fellow with the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and has been named a Super Lawyer for 12 years and a Best Lawyer in America since 2006 by U.S. News & World Report. Paul has been recognized repeatedly as a Top Lawyer by Washingtonian and Northern Virginia magazines


For help with alimony or any other divorce-related dispute, contact the experienced Virginia divorce attorneys at Nichols Zauzig. With convenient locations in Manassas, Woodbridge, Stafford and Fairfax, we are available to clients throughout Northern Virginia. Email or call us today at 703-492-4200.

DISCLAIMER: The results of every case depend on factors unique to that case, and Nichols Zauzig does not guarantee or predict results in similar cases.