A recent case highlighted the importance of accurately reflecting your current income and expenses when pursuing spousal support. In Payne v. Payne, a couple was going through a divorce. The wife admitted that her financial statement included estimated future expenses rather than expenses establishing a baseline for her current need. The wife included a rental payment for a property she could not currently afford. She overestimated her grocery bills, nearly doubling her actual food costs. She also included expenses for items that did not match her current spending patterns. The Wife argued that she needed increased spousal support because the husband was able to continue doing “fun things” that were part of her married lifestyle, that she could no longer afford.
In Virginia, spousal support may be awarded on a temporary or permanent basis. To determine spousal support the court must balance and weigh several statutory factors. Code § 20-107.1. The trial court has broad discretion and makes the award by “consider[ing] the needs of the requesting party and the other spouse’s ability to pay. Alphin v. Alphin, 15 Va. App. 395, 401 (1992). Importantly, the “party seeking spousal support bears the burden of proving all facts necessary for an award.” Andrews v. Cracey, 56 Va. App. 606, 634 (2010). To evaluate the needs of the requesting party, courts look at that party’s financial statements.
In upholding the reduced spousal award, the Court of Appeals stated that “the wife provided an unreliable financial statement that failed to track her current needs.” Thus, the court did not err by concluding that the wife failed to meet her burden of proving all facts necessary for an award. This highlights the importance of accurately reflecting your current needs when submitting a financial statement to the court. Including an accurate representation of your current costs and income on the financial statement is necessary to fulfill the evidentiary burden required for an award. This case illustrates that inflating your financial needs may actually lead to a reduced reward.
Led by Joanna Foard, General Counsel, P.C.’s family/divorce can help you. Divorce and related matters can be complex and because of their importance, it is beneficial to consult with an attorney experienced in family law matters. Our family law attorneys are well-versed in divorce matters and can help you navigate the process and protect your rights. Email us at email@example.com, call us at 703-556-0411, or use this Contact Us form to see how we can help you.