The Livesay & Myers, P.C. Blog
Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) coverage is a benefit commonly awarded to former spouses in military divorce cases in Virginia, particularly where the spouse will be receiving a significant share of the servicemember’s military retired pay.
Survivor Benefit Plan – The Basics
What is SBP? SBP is an annuity plan that, after the death of a retired servicemember, pays a monthly sum to a beneficiary designated by the servicemember. SBP payments begin at the death of the retired servicemember, when the servicemember’s retired pay would normally cease. SBP coverage therefore permits a servicemember to continue to provide income to a named beneficiary upon the servicemember’s death. SBP coverage is analogous to life insurance in that it provides servicemembers security that their dependents will be cared for when they are gone.
The Defense Finance and Accounting Services (DFAS) automatically deducts the monthly premiums for SBP coverage … Read More »
The naturalization of a newly-minted U.S. citizen is cause for much celebration. The road to naturalization, however, can be fraught with problems, some of which can even result in revocation of one’s underlying green card status. Below, I have highlighted three areas that all applicants should carefully consider.
If you obtained a green card through marriage to a U.S. citizen, to be eligible for naturalization you must have been a lawful permanent resident for at least 3 years. You must also reside with your spouse in a bona fide marital relationship during that time, and that spouse must have been a U.S. citizen during that time as well. The naturalization form can be submitted after 2 years, 9 months.
In all other cases, to be eligible for naturalization you must have been a lawful permanent resident for at least 5 years. In these … Read More »
A while back I wrote a blog piece about establishing a date of separation in your divorce process, and why it’s so important once you have made the decision to move on. Let’s take things a step further. Now that you are in the process of separating, what do you need to know to protect your interests and prepare for the road ahead?
First of all, assess the character and personality of your spouse. How will he or she react to the separation? Is there a chance of spiteful financial retribution? Is there a fear of negligent financial mismanagement? You’ll want to look at how many joint financial accounts (checking, savings, money market, etc.) and joint credit cards are currently open, and consider separating those assets and debts to limit your liability. Many people have fallen victim to a post-separation “race … Read More »
More than a thousand Virginia families are close to receiving their share of a million dollar settlement. The lawsuit, brought by the Virginia Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE), is a result of improper actions taken by the Texas-based company Supportkids Inc. in collecting child support payments.
As reported in the Richmond Times-Dispatch and other news outlets:
The lawsuit, filed in 2008, claimed Supportkids illegally used misleading “withholding orders” that appeared to be government-issued to get child support payments withheld from noncustodial parents’ paychecks. The company allegedly extracted fees often exceeding 35 percent.
“They were getting the custodial parent to assign child support payments to the company, and that’s not legal or enforceable in Virginia,” [Thomas M. Wolf, a private attorney who represented Virginia in the case against Supportkids] said. “Child support belongs to the child, not the custodial parent, so … Read More »
There’s a great scene in the movie “My Cousin Vinny” where attorney Vinny Gambini carries in a box of files after meeting with the district attorney, proud that he had convinced the D.A. to turn over his case file. Vinny’s fiancée, Lisa, informs him that he was entitled to the files all along, stating “he has to show you everything.”
When I represent someone accused of a crime, regardless of whether it is a felony or a misdemeanor, a robbery or running a red light, I am generally asked whether the prosecutor has shown me everything in the file. In Virginia criminal cases this process is called discovery, roughly defined in Barron’s Law Dictionary as the “pretrial procedure by which one party gains information held by another party; the disclosure by a party of facts, deeds, documents, and other such things,” … Read More »
You and your spouse were married in Hawaii. You resided as a married couple in Virginia for many years. Discord arose and now you have been separated for over a year. One month ago, your soon-to-be ex moved to sunny Southern California, while you remained in Virginia. You are ready to move on and want to begin divorce proceedings, where do you file?
Determining where to file your divorce is a question of jurisdiction. A court must have jurisdiction over your case before it can grant your divorce, and each state has specific requirements for jurisdiction. In order to file in Virginia, at least one of the parties must meet the residency requirements of Virginia Code Section 20-97. That section states in part that “no suit for annulling a marriage or for divorce shall be maintainable, unless one of the parties … Read More »
While many states recognize same-sex marriage and partnerships, these relationships have not been considered in the context of U.S. immigration laws. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), passed in 1996, has prevented any Federal recognition of same-sex marriages for immigration purposes. DOMA defines marriage as an institution specifically between a man and a woman. This prevents many immigrants from obtaining benefits through their same-sex spouses which would otherwise be available if they were married to members of the opposite sex. For years, many have fought to prevent same-sex marriage families from being separated due to the immigration system’s failure to recognize their relationships. A recent announcement by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) regarding prosecutorial discretion has given those people reason to celebrate.
By a written memorandum on June 17, 2011, ICE Director John Morton set forth the ICE policy on the exercise of … Read More »
The Virginia Court of Appeals has taken a major step in redefining cohabitation “in a relationship analogous to a marriage” under Virginia Code 20-109(A).
Virginia Code 20-109(A) provides for termination of spousal support “upon clear and convincing evidence that the spouse receiving support has been habitually cohabiting with another person in a relationship analogous to a marriage for one year or more.” That Code provision directs courts to terminate spousal support “unless (i) otherwise provided by stipulation or contract or (ii) the spouse receiving support proves by a preponderance of the evidence that termination of such support would be unconscionable.”
Clients frequently ask what “cohabiting with another person in a relationship analogous to a marriage” means, and how to either avoid such a situation or prove that one exists. Virginia Code 20-109(A) does not provide a definition, so attorneys are left answering … Read More »
When potential clients come in to meet with me, they’re often experiencing a crisis in their lives unlike any other. Many people have expectations about the legal system and their lawyer’s role in healing the wounds of their divorce or custody dispute.
So what can the divorce or custody process do for you and what can’t it do? As you get started, where should your focus be?
Let’s begin with what the judicial process generally can’t do. Unfortunately, if you have been suffering through a difficult time, the legal process will never make you whole again. The judge won’t declare your husband to be a bad person or force a public apology from him. Typically, you will not get the opportunity to convince the judge and your wife’s attorney that you are in a morally superior position. We can’t force your husband … Read More »
Green cards obtained through marriage to a U.S. citizen are a popular way to achieve permanent residency status in the United States. But what happens when the non-citizen spouse in the relationship did not enter the country lawfully? Is there any hope for star-crossed lovers in this situation?
Rumors abound on what, exactly, can and cannot be done for a non-citizen spouse. Any spouse who wants to obtain a green card and has been unlawfully present in the U.S. for over 6 months but less than 1 year is subject to a 3-year bar from the U.S. before they can return with proper documentation. For those who spent more than 1 year out of status, the punishment is an even steeper 10-year bar.
Let’s look at a simple example. Tony, a native of Guatemala, enters the U.S. in 2003 without a visa. … Read More »