O’Hara v. O’Hara – Comments by Mr. Long | EZ Justice, PLC
Facts: The PSA (Property Settlement Agreement) says support ends after one year of cohabitation analogous to marriage. Issue: Does support payor have to prove the cohabitation using the clear and convincing statutory standard, or the preponderance of the evidence contract standard? Ruling: The burden of proof for contracts applies. There is no public policy exception that would override the contract language, as there is in the termination of spousal support upon remarriage. Comment of Olivier Long: If the PSA prohibits termination of spousal support “for any reason,” the support termination statute overrides the contract provision, and spousal support still terminates upon remarriage. Only a PSA specifically referencing and rejecting the support termination provision of the Virginia Code will succeed in continuing spousal support despite remarriage! The lesson of O’Hara is to always be specific in contract drafting. Otherwise, Virginia law may lead to a result you did not expect!