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2017 SESSION

17100453D
SENATE BILL NO. 859
Offered January 11, 2017
Prefiled December 5, 2016
A BILL to amend and reenact 20-107.1 and 20-109 of the Code of Virginia, relating to spousal support; termination upon retirement.
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Patron-- Hanger
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Referred to Committee for Courts of Justice
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Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:

1. That 20-107.1 and 20-109 of the Code of Virginia are amended and reenacted as follows:

20-107.1. Court may decree as to maintenance and support of spouses.

A. Pursuant to any proceeding arising under subsection L of 16.1-241 or upon the entry of a decree providing (i) for the dissolution of a marriage, (ii) for a divorce, whether from the bond of matrimony or from bed and board, (iii) that neither party is entitled to a divorce, or (iv) for separate maintenance, the court may make such further decree as it shall deem expedient concerning the maintenance and support of the spouses, notwithstanding a party's failure to prove his grounds for divorce, provided that a claim for support has been properly pled by the party seeking support. However, the court shall have no authority to decree maintenance and support payable by the estate of a deceased spouse.

B. Any maintenance and support shall be subject to the provisions of 20-109, and no permanent maintenance and support shall be awarded from a spouse if there exists in such spouse's favor a ground of divorce under the provisions of subdivision A (1) of 20-91. However, the court may make such an award notwithstanding the existence of such ground if the court determines from clear and convincing evidence, that a denial of support and maintenance would constitute a manifest injustice, based upon the respective degrees of fault during the marriage and the relative economic circumstances of the parties.

C. The court, in its discretion, may decree that maintenance and support of a spouse be made in periodic payments for a defined duration, or in periodic payments for an undefined duration, or in a lump sum award, or in any combination thereof.

For initial spousal support orders, or for requests for support made pursuant to subsection D, filed on or after July 1, 2017, the court in its discretion may decree that maintenance and support of a spouse be made in periodic payments or in a lump sum award, or in any combination thereof. However, if the court decrees that maintenance and support of a spouse be made in periodic payments, such payments shall terminate no later than upon the payor spouse's attainment of full retirement age, provided that when the court enters a support order for periodic payments to be made, the court may, for good cause shown, set a termination date later than the date on which the payor spouse would attain full retirement age. The payor spouse's ability to work beyond full retirement age shall not be a reason to extend a termination date. If the parties stipulate or sign a contract agreeing to a different termination date, the court shall enter the support order in accordance with such stipulation or contract.

For the purposes of this subsection, "full retirement age" means the normal retirement age at which a person is able to receive full retirement benefits under the federal Social Security Act but does not mean "early retirement age," as defined under the federal Social Security Act in 42 U.S.C. 416, as amended.

D. In addition to or in lieu of an award pursuant to subsection C, the court may reserve the right of a party to receive support in the future. In any case in which the right to support is so reserved, there shall be a rebuttable presumption that the reservation will continue for a period equal to 50 percent of the length of time between the date of the marriage and the date of separation. Once granted, the duration of such a reservation shall not be subject to modification.

E. The court, in determining whether to award support and maintenance for a spouse, shall consider the circumstances and factors which contributed to the dissolution of the marriage, specifically including adultery and any other ground for divorce under the provisions of subdivision A (3) or (6) of 20-91 or 20-95. In determining the nature, amount and duration of an award pursuant to this section, the court shall consider the following:

1. The obligations, needs and financial resources of the parties, including but not limited to income from all pension, profit sharing or retirement plans, of whatever nature;

2. The standard of living established during the marriage;

3. The duration of the marriage;

4. The age and physical and mental condition of the parties and any special circumstances of the family;

5. The extent to which the age, physical or mental condition or special circumstances of any child of the parties would make it appropriate that a party not seek employment outside of the home;

6. The contributions, monetary and nonmonetary, of each party to the well-being of the family;

7. The property interests of the parties, both real and personal, tangible and intangible;

8. The provisions made with regard to the marital property under 20-107.3;

9. The earning capacity, including the skills, education and training of the parties and the present employment opportunities for persons possessing such earning capacity;

10. The opportunity for, ability of, and the time and costs involved for a party to acquire the appropriate education, training and employment to obtain the skills needed to enhance his or her earning ability;

11. The decisions regarding employment, career, economics, education and parenting arrangements made by the parties during the marriage and their effect on present and future earning potential, including the length of time one or both of the parties have been absent from the job market;

12. The extent to which either party has contributed to the attainment of education, training, career position or profession of the other party; and

13. Such other factors, including the tax consequences to each party and the circumstances and factors that contributed to the dissolution, specifically including any ground for divorce, as are necessary to consider the equities between the parties.

F. In contested cases in the circuit courts, any order granting, reserving or denying a request for spousal support shall be accompanied by written findings and conclusions of the court identifying the factors in subsection E which support the court's order. If the court awards periodic support for a defined duration, such findings shall identify the basis for the nature, amount and duration of the award and, if appropriate, a specification of the events and circumstances reasonably contemplated by the court which support the award. If such defined duration is extended beyond the attainment of a payor spouse's full retirement age pursuant to subsection C, such findings shall identify (i) the basis for such deviation and (ii) the factors in subsection E that support the court's order.

G. For purposes of this section and 20-109, "date of separation" means the earliest date at which the parties are physically separated and at least one party intends such separation to be permanent provided the separation is continuous thereafter and "defined duration" means a period of time (i) with a specific beginning and ending date or (ii) specified in relation to the occurrence or cessation of an event or condition other than death or termination pursuant to 20-110.

H. Where there are no minor children whom the parties have a mutual duty to support, an order directing the payment of spousal support, including those orders confirming separation agreements, entered on or after October 1, 1985, whether they are original orders or modifications of existing orders, shall contain the following:

1. If known, the name, date of birth and social security number of each party and, unless otherwise ordered, each party's residential and, if different, mailing address, residential and employer telephone number, driver's license number, and the name and address of his employer; however, when a protective order has been issued or the court otherwise finds reason to believe that a party is at risk of physical or emotional harm from the other party, information other than the name of the party at risk shall not be included in the order;

2. The amount of periodic spousal support expressed in fixed sums, together with the payment interval, the date payments are due, and the date the first payment is due;

3. A statement as to whether there is an order for health care coverage for a party;

4. If support arrearages exist, (i) to whom an arrearage is owed and the amount of the arrearage, (ii) the period of time for which such arrearage is calculated, and (iii) a direction that all payments are to be credited to current spousal support obligations first, with any payment in excess of the current obligation applied to arrearages;

5. If spousal support payments are ordered to be paid directly to the obligee, and unless the court for good cause shown orders otherwise, the parties shall give each other and the court at least 30 days' written notice, in advance, of any change of address and any change of telephone number within 30 days after the change; and

6. Notice that in determination of a spousal support obligation, the support obligation as it becomes due and unpaid creates a judgment by operation of law.

20-109. Changing maintenance and support for a spouse; effect of stipulations as to maintenance and support for a spouse; cessation upon cohabitation, remarriage, death, or spouse's full retirement age.

A. Upon petition of either party the court may increase, decrease, or terminate the amount or duration of any spousal support and maintenance that may thereafter accrue, whether previously or hereafter awarded, as the circumstances may make proper. Upon order of the court based upon clear and convincing evidence that the spouse receiving support has been habitually cohabiting with another person in a relationship analogous to a marriage for one year or more commencing on or after July 1, 1997, the court shall terminate spousal support and maintenance unless (i) otherwise provided by stipulation or contract or (ii) the spouse receiving support proves by a preponderance of the evidence that termination of such support would be unconscionable. The provisions of this subsection shall apply to all orders and decrees for spousal support, regardless of the date of the suit for initial setting of support, the date of entry of any such order or decree, or the date of any petition for modification of support.

B. The court may consider a modification of an award of spousal support for a defined duration upon petition of either party filed within the time covered by the duration of the award. Upon consideration of the factors set forth in subsection E of 20-107.1, the court may increase, decrease or terminate the amount or duration of the award upon finding that (i) there has been a material change in the circumstances of the parties, not reasonably in the contemplation of the parties when the award was made or (ii) an event which the court anticipated would occur during the duration of the award and which was significant in the making of the award, does not in fact occur through no fault of the party seeking the modification. The provisions of this subsection shall apply only to suits for initial spousal support orders filed on or after July 1, 1998, and suits for modification of spousal support orders arising from suits for initial support orders filed on or after July 1, 1998.

Notwithstanding the requirements set forth in clause (i) or clause (ii), the court shall order a modification of a spousal support order filed before July 1, 2017, if the modification requested is to terminate support upon the payor spouse's full retirement age in accordance with subsection C of 20-107.1, unless there is good cause shown to deny the petition. If the court denies the petition, it shall enter written findings of the reasons for such denial. If the court grants the petition, the court shall order that the payee spouse shall reimburse the payor spouse for any spousal support payments made after the date of the filing of the petition.

C. In suits for divorce, annulment and separate maintenance, and in proceedings arising under subdivision A 3 or subsection L of 16.1-241, if a stipulation or contract signed by the party to whom such relief might otherwise be awarded is filed before entry of a final decree, no decree or order directing the payment of support and maintenance for the spouse, suit money, or counsel fee or establishing or imposing any other condition or consideration, monetary or nonmonetary, shall be entered except in accordance with that stipulation or contract. If such a stipulation or contract is filed after entry of a final decree and if any party so moves, the court shall modify its decree to conform to such stipulation or contract.

D. Unless otherwise provided by stipulation or contract, spousal support and maintenance shall terminate upon the death of either party or remarriage of the spouse receiving support. The spouse entitled to support shall have an affirmative duty to notify the payor spouse immediately of remarriage at the last known address of the payor spouse.