Recent Changes in Virginia Divorce Procedure – Pendente Lite Spousal Support Calculation

The Virginia General Assembly has recently affected a new wave of changes in divorce procedure. One of these recent changes includes the formula courts use to determine preliminary spousal support in a divorce case.

One someone files for divorce based on a fault ground[1], they can set a hearing for pendente lite relief. “Pendente Lite” is a Latin term meaning, “during the suit” or “while litigation continues.”[2] Once a divorce case is filed, a court can offer a party a host of relief, to include exclusive use and possession of a marital residence, temporary custody of children, and temporary child or spousal support.[3] A court can also make Pendente Lite orders regarding debts, bills, and even healthcare coverage.[4]

Effective July 1, 2020, the Virginia General Assembly included a formula to determine spousal support between parties with and without minor children. This formula is as follows:

the difference between 26 percent of the payor spouse's monthly gross income and 58 percent of the payee spouse's monthly gross income. If the parties have no minor children in common, the presumptive amount of the award shall be the difference between 27 percent of the payor spouse's monthly gross income and 50 percent of the payee spouse's monthly gross income.[5]

As with most guidelines, the court may deviate from this presumptive amount for good cause shown.[6] Evidence to support good cause can include anything relating to the parties’ current financial situations, or any positive or negative tax consequences that would indicate to the court that the presumptive amount is inappropriate.[7]

Further, Virginia Code states that this presumptive amount only applies to parties whose monthly gross income does not exceed $10,000.00; in those cases, there is no set formula to determine spousal support.

Finally, it is important to note that support issued pendente lite is not considered presumptive in a trial on spousal support.[8] In a final adjudication of spousal support there are many more considerations a court makes in determining the duration and amount of spousal support to be awarded.[9]

Navigating through divorce is often overwhelming and confusing. The experienced attorneys at Hicks Crandall Juhl are ready and willing to help answer any questions you may have. To schedule a consultation, contact us here.


[1] See 2021 Changes in Virginia Divorce Procedure – Corroborating Witness Requirement for discussion of differences between contested and uncontested divorce cases.

[2] Merriam-Webster, pendente lite definition.,

[3] See Va. Code § 20-103.

[4] See Id.

[5] See Id. at § 20-103(G).

[6] Va. Code § 20-103(H).

[7] See Id.

[8] Va. Code § 20-103(J).

[9] See § 20-108.1.