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As a result, some parties were signing agreements with the intent that they would have the ability to modify the spousal support award, but instead, would later discover that because the possibility of modification was not addressed in the separation agreement, then nothing could be done by the courts despite there having been a material change in circumstances.
Beginning on July 1, 2018, if a separation agreement does not affirmatively state whether the spousal support award is meant to be permanent, or in other words non-modifiable, then the presumption will be that the spousal support award will always be modifiable based upon a material change in circumstances.
Hopefully, this requirement for a court’s order to provide an explanation will lessen the amount of litigation brought as to whether retirement was contemplated at the time of the spousal support award.
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The 2018 session of the Virginia General Assembly made some major changes to the Virginia Code that will affect the issue of the modification of spousal support in Virginia starting July 1, 2018.
Until these recent changes in the law, it has been well settled in Virginia that if a separation agreement (frequently referred to as a “marital settlement agreement” or “property settlement agreement”) is silent as to whether an award of spousal support is modifiable due to a material change of circumstances, then the presumption by a court is that the award was fixed and could be revisited or modified.
These difficulties can become particularly severe when one or both spouses decide to seek a divorce.
One of the most important decisions you can make in order to simplify the process is to hire a divorce lawyer who can provide you with excellent and detailed counsel and advice, as well as argue convincingly on your behalf.