The Livesay & Myers, P.C. Blog


What to Know Before Filing a Rule to Show Cause

Posted on December 2nd, 2016, by Jonathan McHugh in Family Law. No Comments

A question I frequently receive from family law clients or potential clients is: “the other party has violated our court order—so what can I do about it?”

When one party violates a previous order from a Virginia court, the other party has the opportunity to petition the court for enforcement of the order. In Virginia, this is called a Petition for a Rule to Show Cause. At the Show Cause hearing, the judge will give the person alleged to be in violation an opportunity to defend their actions, and present evidence as to why they may have violated the court order. If the court is not satisfied by that evidence or explanation, it may hold the violating party in contempt and may issue a punishment based on the type and severity of the violation.

Punishments may be civil or criminal, and will vary depending on … Read More »


Parental Alienation in Virginia

Posted on November 18th, 2016, by Caitlyn Stubbs in Custody, Family Law. No Comments

In Virginia, courts are required to base custody and visitation determinations on the best interests of the child. The specific factors courts should consider in determining what is in a child’s best interests are set forth in Virginia Code § 20-124.3. One of these factors is:

“[t]he propensity of each parent to actively support the child’s contact and relationship with the other parent, including whether a parent has unreasonably denied the other parent access to or visitation with the child.”

This factor generally appears in custody and visitation cases where one or both parents is speaking negatively about the other parent around the child, or overtly barring access to the child without cause. (Speaking negatively about the other parent “around the child” can include denigration of the other parent on social media.)

This factor also comes into play when the primary … Read More »


Elective Shares in Virginia: Can Your Spouse Disinherit You?

Posted on November 16th, 2016, by Sarah Collins in Divorce, Estate Planning, Family Law. No Comments

Are you separated from your spouse, or otherwise undergoing marital difficulties? If so, you may find yourself wondering whether your spouse can disinherit you. In Virginia, the short answer is no. Virginia law protects surviving spouses from being disinherited by allowing the surviving spouse to claim an “elective share” of the decedent’s estate if the decedent died without a will, if the spouse is omitted from the will, and even if the decedent explicitly disinherited the surviving spouse in the will. The right to an elective share continues even where the parties are separated or pending divorce, until a divorce is final.

What Are You Entitled to Under the Elective Share?

The answer to this question is going to change for decedents dying on or after January 1, 2017, based on some 2016 revisions to the Virginia Code.

For decedents dying before January … Read More »


Seven Things You Should Know About Powers of Attorney in Virginia

Posted on November 15th, 2016, by Carolyn Eaton in Estate Planning. No Comments

Powers of attorney are valuable tools for managing your business and personal affairs, and health care. If you are considering one, here are seven things you should know about powers of attorney in Virginia:

1. What Is a Power of Attorney? A power of attorney is a legal document that allows you (the “principal”) to appoint someone (the “agent”) to act on your behalf. A limited power of attorney contains language that restricts the agent’s authority to a specified act or specified period of time. A general power of attorney is effective upon signing and gives the agent authority to do anything you could do for yourself, but it is no longer effective if you become incapacitated. A springing power of attorney (also called a conditional power of attorney) becomes effective if and when you become incapacitated; it can also be … Read More »


After Election, Immigrants Should Act Now to Protect Their Status

Posted on November 10th, 2016, by Jennifer Varughese in Immigration Law. No Comments

On Election Day 2016, I served, with joy, as an Elections Officer in Fairfax County. Working at a poll in a heavily immigrant community, a large number of the voters I saw were undoubtedly naturalized U.S. citizens. Though some debate the effect of a single vote, the passion with which these individuals voted was unmistakable. While some wore traditional garb, many specifically chose to sport red, white, and blue attire to celebrate their adopted country.

For many in the immigrant community, the results of this election were disappointing. Xenophobia and rhetoric regarding walls and mass deportation have appeared to overpower more constructive conversations regarding unimaginable visa backlogs, the retention of highly-skilled foreign workers, and balancing the just with the humane aspects of being an immigrant nation.

Although specifics have not yet emerged, the newly-elected President has signaled his intention to severely restrict legal migration to the … Read More »


Child Support for Children With a Disability In Virginia

Posted on October 27th, 2016, by Laila Raheen in Family Law. No Comments

For single parents of children with a disability or special needs, navigating the issue of child support can be a confusing and anxiety-ridden process. These parents may require more child support than is called for by the statewide guidelines in Virginia, and may require child support well past the time child support usually ends. A proper understanding of several points of Virginia law can greatly assist these parents in meeting the special needs of their children.

Deviation From Guidelines

The starting point for determining child support in all Virginia cases is Virginia Code § 20-108.2, which sets forth statewide child support guidelines. The guidelines provide a child support amount based on the incomes of the parties and any costs incurred for health care coverage and work-related child care. While such a straightforward formula may be appropriate under ordinary circumstances, custodial parents of children with a disability … Read More »


Did My Spouse Abandon Me or Are We Separated?

Posted on October 25th, 2016, by Danielle Snead in Divorce, Family Law. No Comments

Desertion v. Separation in Virginia

Virginia Code § 20-91 provides for divorce on either fault-based grounds or no-fault grounds in Virginia. The grounds for divorce listed there include, among others, both (a) the fault-based ground of willful desertion or abandonment, after one year and (b) the no-fault ground of living separate and apart without any cohabitation and without interruption for one year. The separation period for a no-fault divorce is shortened to six months where the parties have entered into a separation agreement and have no minor children.

All of which leads to this common question: how does one live “separate and apart” to qualify for a no-fault divorce, without being found guilty of willful desertion or abandonment?

Virginia courts distinguish desertion from mere separation by looking at the specific behavior of the parties. Courts have consistently found that one party moving out of the marital bedroom … Read More »


Actual vs. Constructive Possession of Marijuana in Virginia

Posted on October 18th, 2016, by Fernando Villarroel in Criminal Defense. No Comments

You have been charged with possession of marijuana in Virginia—yet you never actually possessed the drug. How is that possible? The reason is simple: under Virginia law you may be guilty of marijuana possession if the prosecutor can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were either in actual or “constructive” possession of it.

Actual possession is when you are physically in possession of an object, or in this case, a narcotic. For instance, you could be holding it or it could be in your pant pocket. So, in other words, you are in actual possession of things that are on your person.

Constructive possession, on the other hand, is when the marijuana is not on your person, but is in a place under your control, and you know what and where it is. To show constructive possession, the government has to prove the … Read More »


Should You File for Divorce Based on Fault in Virginia?

Posted on October 6th, 2016, by Jenna Maresco in Divorce. No Comments

Virginia law allows for divorce based on both fault-based and “no-fault” grounds. The three fault-based grounds for divorce in Virginia are adultery, cruelty and desertion. In deciding which ground to file on, it is wise to start by considering the pros and cons of filing for divorce based on a fault-based ground in Virginia.

Advantages to Filing for Divorce Based on Fault

Unlike a “no-fault” divorce, if you decide to file for divorce based on fault, there is no statutorily mandated waiting period for filing. Many individuals who want to get the ball rolling on their divorce may choose to proceed based on fault (assuming it is applicable in their case). This advantage to a fault-based divorce is especially important in those cases where one spouse needs immediate, temporary child support or spousal support during the pendency of the divorce, which can be obtained through … Read More »


Residing With Your Spouse During Separation

Posted on October 4th, 2016, by Caitlin Higgins in Divorce, Family Law. No Comments

You have made the difficult decision to separate from your spouse, but there are insufficient funds in the family budget to support two households. Perhaps it is unclear which party will permanently remain in the marital residence, and neither is willing to move out without having a financial agreement in place. For whatever reason, you find yourself separated from your spouse while living under the same roof. There are several issues to be aware of if you are contemplating living with your spouse during separation in Virginia.

Clients frequently ask whether time spent separated yet living under the same roof as their spouse counts toward the requisite separation period necessary for a no-fault divorce. In Virginia, spouses can obtain a no-fault divorce after six months of living separate and apart without any cohabitation and without interruption, if there are no minor … Read More »




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