A party losing their employment, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, can have earth-shattering ramifications for a divorce at any stage, whether during the divorce process or after a divorce decree has already been entered. This is particularly true where spousal support or child support is being paid by one party to the other. Typically, a loss of employment income can be a trigger for a reduction of those support amounts, as the payor will claim they do not have sufficient income to pay support at the same level. Where the loss of employment is involuntary, such a request may well be granted. However, the payor receiving a severance from their employer could change that outcome in several ways.
When a party paying child support or spousal support dies, those payments end with the payor's death. Thus, if you are receiving support, it is quite legitimate to consider what might happen if the payor dies before the term of support would otherwise naturally end. This may be especially important to consider where your children have special financial needs, or if you agreed to receive a greater amount of spousal or child support in lieu of other money or property. Alternatively, if you are paying child support and the other parent passes away, such that you become your child(ren) primary custodian, your living expenses could increase dramatically. Fortunately, Virginia law provides a "Plan B" to protect parties in those catastrophic circumstances.
When one spouse is either voluntarily unemployed, or is under-employed, Virginia law does allow the other spouse to take the position that income should properly be imputed to such spouse when addressing a determination of spouse and/or child support. Stated differently, Virginia law will generally not allow a spouse to refrain from working at a paying job, or working at something less than his/her earning capacity; and thereby cause the other spouse to pay an increased amount of support.
Can I withhold Visitation if I don't receive child support?
Virginia law expressly authorizes a Court to increase or decrease the amount of support, whether child support and/or spousal support, involved in a divorce situation.