In a divorce case, there is jurisdiction to award spousal support to a party who did not mention it in her pleadings, because her husband raised the issue by filing a motion to deny or time-limit spousal support, the Court of Appeals held in Ozfidan v. Ozfidan, unpublished, 1/1017.
There had been a spousal support order from Juvenile Court, and neither side's original pleadings in the divorce case asked for any action on spousal support. After the divorce trial and Final Order, the husband filed a Motion to Reconsider, and also a "Motion to Decree Spousal Support", moving the court "to decree the maintenance and support of the spouses and, if any such decree be made, order ... a defined duration."
The Court of Appeals opinion initially does not sound as if it intends to be limited by the fact that the husband included such open-ended language in his request. It holds that if either side raises the spousal support issue in any written pleading -- and“ All motions in writing . . . are pleadings.” under Rule 3:18(a) -- the trial court may grant spousal support in whatever amount seems appropriate and authorized by statute. It cites what it sees as the relevant parts of Code § 20-79(b):
In any suit for divorce, the court in which the suit is instituted or pending, when either party to the proceedings so requests, shall provide in its decree for the . . . support and maintenance for the spouse . . . if in the judgment of the court any or all of the foregoing should be so decreed.
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.
But further down, it addresses and distinguishes existing case law saying that if one party simply asks for spousal support it can't be awarded to the other party, and specifically hangs its ruling on the pleading language asking for a general determination of spousal support. So one can still carefully plead for an award of spousal support only to oneself, and thus not open the door for it to be given to the other party; but it looks like a pleading to deny or limit the other party's support will open that door to all options.
The Court also rejected the argument that the wife waived spousal support by not asking for it in the divorce. She didn't ask for it in the divorce because she already had it under the juvenile court order. "Waiver is the intentional relinquishment of a known right."
Husband also argued that the trial court had no jurisdiction to award spousal support after the final order, but the Court rejected this since he was the one who had asked the trial court to address the issue at that time.