Thomas v. Thomas is a major equitable distribution decision in Virginia. Olivier Denier Long wrote the brief for the Appellant / Husband. Mr. Thomas prevailed on two significant issues, only one of which is discussed here.

Thomas establishes for the first time in Virginia that temporary spousal support may be paid out of marital property!

Before this decision, spousal support was usually paid out of income.

Anticipated Consequences of the Decision:

Separating couples in Virginia where spousal support is payable or is likely to be payable are going to scramble even faster than before to grab marital assets. The assets to be seized and sequestered out of the reach of the other spouse are those that can be liquidated without the other spouse’s signature. Such assets include:

  • Joint bank accounts;

  • Joint investment accounts;

  • Collectibles like coins, stamps; and works of art;

  • Personal property like jewelry, computers, PDA’s, stereos, televisions, DVD’s, VCR’s, appliances, riding mowers; and of course,

  • Cash.

Who is Most Affected:
Divorcing spouses most affected by the Thomas decision are those with:

  • A large income disparity between husband and wife. (In Thomas, the husband’s income was imputed at $140,000.00 a year, and the wife earned just $8.00 an hour.) And,

  • Significant assets capable of liquidation without the signature of both spouses.

    (In Thomas, the husband cashed out an asset that was marital property, and used the proceeds to pay court-ordered temporary spousal support. The Court of Appeals said that was not marital waste. Therefore, each dollar of spousal support that the husband obtained from marital property not only cost him just his ED share of the asset (perhaps fifty cents) but also was deductible from his income as support paid to a spouse! In a sense, the husband received a double benefit by using marital property to pay support instead of using his income.

Antidote for support recipients:

  • As early as possible, place out of reach of your spouse those assets that can be liquidated without joint signatures; and,

  • Immediately when your divorce case is filed, obtain a court injunction preventing your spouse from liquidating marital assets.

Law Offices of Olivier Denier Long
Domestic Relations Litigation in Maryland, Washington DC and Virginia

Case results depend upon a variety of factors unique to each case, and the outcome in one proceeding does not guarantee or predict a similar result in the future.