Virginia Support: Support Overpayment Reimbursement Explained

Can a support payor get reimbursed for overpaying child or spousal support in Virginia?  In Ruane v. Ruane, Record No. 1285-15-2 (Va. Ct. Appeals 2016) (unpublished), the Virginia Court of Appeals seems to answer no, except when the answer is yes.

In Ruane, the husband was found to have overpaid spousal support for many months because the trial court erroneously made him pay temporary spousal support pursuant to an invalidated separation agreement.  The husband wanted his wife to pay him back for the extra amount he paid beyond the amount he was ordered to pay at the final trial.  The wife argued that the husband is not entitled to any reimbursement for overpaid spousal support under Virginia law.

The Virginia Court of Appeals held that the mother was mostly correct.  According to the Court, there is no authority for a court to order restitution of child support paid pursuant to Nordstrom v. Nordstrom, 50 Va. App. 257 (2007), and there is similarly no such authority for restitution of spousal support pursuant to Reid v. Reid, 245 Va. 409 (1993).  Nevertheless, while the Court went on to say that the husband “is not entitled to actual reimbursement of those overpayments,” he was nevertheless entitled to a credit against his ongoing support payments.

As you might be able to tell, this is largely a distinction without a difference as the husband will be compensated for his overpayment of support.  The distinction appears to be between situations where there is an ongoing support payment (where you can get a credit against that obligation) and where is no ongoing support payment (where you apparently can’t get any reimbursement at all).  Only the Virginia Court of Appeals knows for sure.