The Livesay & Myers Blog
Every parent involved in a child custody dispute is concerned about the kind of custody and visitation arrangement that will result. Regardless of whether the court decides custody or the parents reach an agreement which is then approved by the court, there are two aspects of custody that must be addressed in every case: legal custody and physical custody.
In Virginia, one possible custody option is one parent being awarded sole legal custody and sole physical custody, with a visitation schedule for the other parent. An alternative to that “sole custody” arrangement would be “joint custody.”
Virginia Code Section 20-124.1 defines joint custody as follows:
joint legal custody, where both parents retain joint responsibility for the care and control of the child and joint authority to make decisions concerning the child even though the child’s primary residence may be with only one parent;
joint … Read More »
A Family Care Plan (FCP) is a document that certain active duty or reserve servicemembers, and some DOD civilians, are required by the Department of Defense to maintain in order to ensure that their children (and incapacitated parents) are taken care of if they are called away to service.
Any person required by DOD Instruction 1342.19 to maintain a Family Care Plan must do so in a certain amount of time. Other than the requirements with respect to timely filing, the instructions are fairly broad as to what can and should be included in the FCP.
At a minimum, a Family Care Plan allows the military member to designate another party to care for his or her child during any period where the member is unavailable due to military service obligations.
Though the DOD requires this plan of action and files it in each servicemember’s … Read More »
Virginia Code Section 20-107.1 provides that pursuant to a divorce, a court may reserve the right of a party to receive spousal support in the future. Furthermore, “in any case so reserved, there shall be a rebuttable presumption that the reservation will continue for a period equal to 50 percent of the length of time between the date of marriage and the date of separation. Once granted, the duration of such reservation shall not be subject to modification.”
What does this mean? This means that in lieu of a spousal support award, or in addition to a spousal support award, a Virginia court can grant a reservation for one or both parties to seek additional spousal support from the other in the future.
Why would a spouse not elect to immediately pursue his or her reservation? Because it’s not as simple as … Read More »
The Difference Between Jurisdiction and Venue
Jurisdiction and venue are two very different legal terms that are often, and wrongly, used interchangeably.
Jurisdiction is the power of a court to adjudicate a case upon the merits and dispose of it as justice may require. Litigants cannot bestow this power on the court by waiver or consent; jurisdiction can only be granted to a court by constitution or legislation. In Virginia, a court has jurisdiction over a family law case if it has (1) jurisdiction over the subject matter, (2) jurisdiction over the person, and (3) jurisdiction to render the specific relief sought. For example, pursuant to Virginia Code Section 20-96, the circuit courts in Virginia have jurisdiction over suits for annulment, divorce, separate maintenance, and for affirming marriages.
In contrast, venue is the place where the power to adjudicate a controversy is exercised, and it can be waived … Read More »
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 »
I recently handled the immigration case of an individual who has resided in the U.S. since the late 1950s. Having entered on a farmworker visa and then falling out of status once the visa expired, my client filed for a green card based on a little-known program in the U.S. called Registry. Quite simply, Registry allows for a person to obtain a green card (or permanent residency) if they can prove physical and continuous presence in the U.S. since January 1, 1972.
Other criteria for a green card through the Registry include that the individual is:
a person of good moral character;
not ineligible for citizenship; and
not deportable as a terrorist or inadmissible for engaging in Nazi persecution, genocide, torturous acts, or extrajudicial killings.
Importantly, the applicant must have proof of his/her continuous physical presence in the U.S. since 1972. Such proof includes: bills, … Read More »
Over the last few weeks, the recent upsurge of unaccompanied minor children crossing illegally into the United States has caught the attention of the media and protesters alike. Anti-immigration activists will predictably seek to frame this situation in the most political terms possible. But this is a case where, rather than arguing over invisible borders, we should act as adults seeking to protect the innocent.
In order to understand this recent influx of child immigrants, it is important to understand how we got here, how bad the situation is for these children, and what we are doing to address the issues.
How Did We Get Here?
In 2008, President Bush signed the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act into law. This Act set guidelines on how unaccompanied minors arriving from non-border countries should be handled. Minors qualifying under the Act are entitled to have a hearing … Read More »
“Im Deploying! How does that affect my custodial or visitation rights to my child?”
Deploying is a unique and difficult fact of life for most every military family. For those parents involved in a custody or visitation dispute, deployment can be an even more stressful event, as the deploying parent must also be concerned with arrangements for his or her child during the required absence.
Given that Virginia has the second largest military population in the United States, it is not surprising that in 2008 the Virginia legislature addressed the concerns of deploying parents with a statutory scheme designed to protect the custodial or visitation rights of our men and women in uniform.
The Virginia Military Parents Equal Protection Act, incorporated into Virginia Code Sections 20-124.7 through 20-124.10, defines who is considered to be a deploying parent, including not only active duty but … Read More »
That Is the Question for Many Criminal Defendants
The world of criminal defense has been abuzz lately regarding a unique plea deal that was struck last month in Shenandoah County, Virginia. In that case, the defendant, Jessie Herald, was facing five charges: felony child endangerment, felony hit and run, misdemeanor failure to provide medical attention to an injured child, misdemeanor driving on a suspended license, and misdemeanor driving after forfeiture of his license. In exchange for dropping two misdemeanors, he agreed as part of his terms of probation to get a vasectomy. The defendant had fathered multiple children and the prosecutor deemed it would be in the Commonwealth’s best interests for him to have a vasectomy. The decision has been controversial among the legal community of where the line should be drawn in what is acceptable in a plea deal.
While most … Read More »
In our highly politicized and pluralistic world, consensus often comes with a shock. Debates are argued not necessarily by the brightest advocates for a position, but by the loudest or most intense. Legislation always feels like it is passed by party line. And popular convention extends the same to the United States Supreme Court: that there are four justices who all agree one way, four who agree inapposite, and one deciding swing vote every time. If you just observe superficially, every Supreme Court decision is a 5-4 affair. So when the justices return a 9-0 decision, it comes as a shock to many. And the same superficial observation has us give a 9-0 ruling more weight than a 5-4 decision. On June 25, 2014, the Supreme Court issued one of these seemingly rare unanimous decisions, answering a question of utmost importance: whether … Read More »