About Benjamin Carafiol

Ben Carafiol is a senior family lawyer in the Fredericksburg office of Livesay & Myers. He has years of experience representing clients in the courts of Fredericksburg, Stafford, Spotsylvania and surrounding areas. Knowledgeable in all areas of family law, he is particularly experienced with issues of military and government retirement.

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Here are the most recent posts by this author:


Idaho Jeopardizes U.S. Participation in Hague Convention

Posted on May 19th, 2015, by Benjamin Carafiol in Family Law. No Comments

Concerns Over Shariah Law Threaten International Child Support Treaty

A few years ago, we covered federal action on the 2007 Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance. Specifically, I wrote about how the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed key language implementing the Hague Convention in the International Child Support Recovery Act of 2012. While that bill did not ultimately become law, a new issue has recently arisen that jeopardizes U.S. participation in the Hague Convention itself.

As the 2015 session of the Idaho legislature approached closing, the Judiciary, Rules and Administration Committee of the Idaho House of Representatives voted to kill an update to Idaho’s version of the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act. The update would have brought child support enforcement methods in Idaho into alignment with the terms of the Hague Convention. The measure had passed the … Read More »


The “Inequitable” Billion-Dollar Divorce

Posted on January 23rd, 2015, by Benjamin Carafiol in Divorce, Family Law. No Comments

Appeals Filed By Both Sides

Previously on this Blog, Livesay & Myers, P.C. senior associate Matthew Smith explained the decision rendered in the divorce action between Continental Resources CEO Harold Hamm and his now-ex-wife, Sue Ann Arnall. This case was, and is, noteworthy because the decision awarded Ms. Hamm almost one billion dollars ($955,481,842, to be precise) for her share of the marital estate. If the trial court’s decision stands, this will be one of the largest divorce settlements of all time. The highest recorded settlement to date was for the divorce of Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev ($4.5 billion dollars).

However, at present both parties to this proceeding have filed appeals to the Oklahoma State Supreme Court. Oklahoma, like Virginia, is an equitable distribution jurisdiction, where the court determines the extent of the marital property, excludes certain assets as the separate … Read More »


Service of Process Through Social Media

Posted on September 26th, 2014, by Benjamin Carafiol in Family Law. No Comments

Any person taken to court has certain rights that must be respected. The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution require that neither the federal government nor individual states deprive anyone of life, liberty or property without “due process of law.” At its most fundamental level, due process requires the defendant be served with notice that a case has been filed against them, and given the opportunity to appear before the court to defend themselves.

The increasing mobility of individuals in our society has added complexity to the issues of due process. Pioneers took six months to travel across the country on the Oregon Trail in the mid-1800s, risking disease and death along the way. Today, someone can load up their belongings in a U-Haul truck and relocate across the entire country in about a week. This extreme freedom and ease … Read More »


How to Lock in Your Custody Agreement and Avoid an Appeal

Posted on July 24th, 2014, by Benjamin Carafiol in Custody, Family Law. No Comments

The juvenile and domestic relations district courts (“J&DR courts”) in the Commonwealth of Virginia have jurisdiction over cases to determine child custody and visitation. While this jurisdiction is “concurrent” with the circuit courts (meaning either court can hear such a case), a vast majority of custody disputes begin—and end—in J&DR courts. Parties to custody cases before a J&DR court do retain the automatic right to appeal any decision to the circuit court for a brand new trial, meaning that parents could potentially have to go through a complete custody trial not once, but twice, before being able to move on with their lives.

This reason is one among many that could lead parties to resolve a custody battle through a negotiated agreement. But the last thing a parent wants to face is the other parent backing out of an agreed-upon custody arrangement, … Read More »


Early Termination of Rental Agreements for Domestic Violence Victims

Posted on June 4th, 2014, by Benjamin Carafiol in Family Law. No Comments

Last year, Virginia expanded the relief available to victims of domestic violence obtaining a final protective order. The typical remedies a victim of family abuse may seek in Virginia are found in Virginia Code Section 16.1-279.1, and include prohibiting acts of future family abuse, prohibiting some or all contact between the victim and the offender, and granting possession of the residence occupied by the parties to the petitioning party. The option of an abuse victim to terminate a rental agreement early, however, is not contained in this Section. It is instead located in Virginia Code Chapter 55, which deals with property and conveyances.

Virginia Code Sections 55-225.16 and 55-248.21:2 both provide that any tenant who has been a victim of (a) family abuse, (b) sexual abuse, or (c) other criminal sexual assault may terminate their rental agreement under certain circumstances. Those … Read More »


Virginia Poised to Update Child Support Guidelines

Posted on March 27th, 2014, by Benjamin Carafiol in Family Law. No Comments

The Virginia General Assembly recently passed a bill to update Virginia’s child support guidelines. The bill, HB 933, enjoyed significant support in the legislature—passing the House of Delegates on a vote of 85-10 and the Senate on a 38-0 vote. If the Governor now signs the bill, it will go into law effective July 1, 2014.

HB 933 proposes three significant changes to Virginia Code Section 20-108.2:

Updated Child Support Guidelines. Virginia initially adopted the child support guidelines set forth in Virginia Code Section 20-108.2 in 1988, and while it has made minor changes to portions of this law it has not updated the actual guidelines in the past 26 years. The new law would not simply increase child support amounts across the board; rather, the specific details of an individual’s case could result in higher or lower child support amounts under the revised guidelines.
Removes Set … Read More »


Virginia Legislature Considers Streamlined Custody Procedures

Posted on January 16th, 2014, by Benjamin Carafiol in Custody, Family Law. No Comments

Modification to Virginia Code Would Allow Consolidated Petitions

The issues of child custody and visitation are about as connected as any two issues can be. If you have any experience with Virginia custody cases, however, you know that it can feel like each part of your case has its own case number. And that’s because, by and large, it does! The Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Courts here in Virginia will assign one identification number for a child custody case and give a second, different number to a visitation case… for the same child. If paternity is an issue that becomes a third case number. And if there are multiple children, well, each child gets his or her own set of unique case numbers for his or her custody matter. Parents in a custody dispute can find themselves with more than … Read More »


Servicemembers Civil Relief Act Does Not Preclude All Civil Actions

Posted on November 25th, 2013, by Benjamin Carafiol in Military Divorce. Comments Off on Servicemembers Civil Relief Act Does Not Preclude All Civil Actions

As we have previously discussed here at the Livesay Myers Blog, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) can have a significant impact in a family law case where one party is a member of the Armed Forces. The SCRA provides paths for servicemembers on active duty to delay litigation in which they are involved. Key points that servicemembers often ignore with respect to the SCRA are (a) that it only provides a temporary delay to their litigation and (b) that the servicemember is required to actively seek relief under the SCRA.

These points were discussed in a recent Marine Corps Times article regarding a soldier who appealed a child support court order to the Alaska Supreme Court. The soldier argued in his appeal that the SCRA protected him from any negative consequences of civil litigation as long as he is on active … Read More »


Can Pre-Marital Conduct Be a Ground for Divorce in Virginia?

Posted on October 14th, 2013, by Benjamin Carafiol in Divorce. Comments Off on Can Pre-Marital Conduct Be a Ground for Divorce in Virginia?

In a case recently reviewed by the Virginia Court of Appeals, a wife sought appeal of her divorce case because the judge refused to grant a fault-based divorce on the ground of pre-marital cruelty. The trial court in her case instead entered the divorce based on the parties’ living separately, and the Court of Appeals decided there was no error in so doing. In Virginia, if more than one ground for divorce exists, the trial judge has discretion to enter the divorce on any applicable ground. The Court of Appeals, relying on this rule, held that even if the wife had proved pre-marital cruelty, the trial judge acted properly in choosing to grant the divorce on the no-fault ground of the parties’ separation.

In the course of reaching its decision, the Court of Appeals “assum[ed] without deciding” that pre-marital cruelty is a valid ground for divorce in … Read More »


Stafford County Pendente Lite Hearings: Mediation Orientation

Posted on September 4th, 2013, by Benjamin Carafiol in Divorce, Family Law. Comments Off on Stafford County Pendente Lite Hearings: Mediation Orientation

A key step in every contested divorce case in Virginia is the pendente lite hearing, where the court puts in place a number of ground rules to govern the parties until the divorce is final. “Pendente lite” is a Latin term which essentially means “pending the litigation” or in this context, “pending the final divorce.” In many cases these pendente lite ground rules include an order for temporary child and spousal support.

Each county has their own set of procedures regarding these hearings. For example, pendente lite hearings in Fairfax follow a very rigid structure, including a strictly-enforced 30 minute time limit. Stafford County also follows a schedule with most all hearings being 30 minutes, but Stafford is unique in its near universal drive to have parties attempt mediation before their temporary hearings.

The Virginia Code authorizes courts to refer any contested civil matter (such as a divorce … Read More »


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