The Livesay & Myers Blog


The Primary Caregiver in Virginia Custody Cases

Posted on April 28th, 2014, by Carolyn Eaton in Custody, Family Law. No Comments

The central question for most parents facing a child custody battle is: “what are my chances at winning custody?” In many cases, the answer to this question depends upon the answer to another question: who is the primary caregiver? Many households are still arranged with one parent being the primary breadwinnner for the family and the other parent being the primary caregiver for the children. In those situations, the latter parent has a decided advantage in winning primary custody. However, Virginia law requires courts to look at the whole picture in deciding custody cases, and not determine custody solely on the primary caregiver factor.

Does Virginia Favor the Primary Caregiver?

Virginia law requires judges to base custody determinations on the best interests of the child, as determined by ten factors stated in Virginia Code Section 20-124.3. Neither parent is automatically favored in these … Read More »


New Virginia Law Allows Protective Orders to Award Pet Possession

Posted on April 23rd, 2014, by Danielle Snead in Family Law. No Comments

Each year several bills are introduced in the Virginia House of Delegates or the Virginia Senate, but only a few get passed and approved into law. One of the bills that was introduced and passed during this year’s session will expand protective orders in Virginia in an interesting way. The bill, House Bill No. 972, effectively grants judges in Virginia the authority to award pet possession as part of protective orders. This new law will go into effect on July 1, 2014.

Under current Virginia law, a person who has been a victim of violence, force, or threat that has resulted in bodily injury or places them in reasonable apprehension of the same, can seek a protective order. As explained in Protective Orders Under Virginia Law, these orders can be sought via a court or a magistrate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year on … Read More »


Grandparent Rights in Virginia

Posted on April 14th, 2014, by Ariel Baniowski in Custody, Family Law. No Comments

Grandparents may seek custody or visitation of their grandchildren for any number of reasons. Perhaps one or both parents have become incapacitated, incarcerated, or otherwise unfit to have custody. Or perhaps a grandparent feels that a parent is preventing them from maintaining a health relationship with a grandchild. What recourse does a grandparent have in one of these situations? What are a grandparent’s rights to custody and visitation in Virginia?

Grandparent Custody Rights in Virginia

In Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57, 65 (2000), the U.S. Supreme Court established that parents have an inherent constitutional right in rearing their children. The Court stated that the “interests of parents in the care, custody and control of their children… is perhaps the oldest of the fundamental liberty interests recognized” by the Court. However, this right belongs only to parents—it does not belong to grandparents. … Read More »


Answers to Five Common Questions About ICE Holds

Posted on April 10th, 2014, by Susannah Nichols in Immigration Law. No Comments

I often meet with people concerned because an immigration detainer, commonly referred to as an “ICE hold,” has been placed on their loved one after a criminal arrest. When a non-citizen is arrested by local law enforcement, immigration officials may be alerted to their presence. Should Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) have “reason to believe” that an individual is not a U.S. citizen, they will investigate to determine if the person is subject to being removed (deported) from the United States. ICE will likely place an immigration detainer on the individual in local custody while they investigate the situation.

Because they are separate from the underlying criminal charges, ICE holds can create confusion both on the part of the detained individual as well as their family members. If you or a loved one are the subject of an immigration detainer, here are … Read More »


The Hidden Danger of Virginia Spousal Support Agreements

Posted on April 7th, 2014, by James Livesay in Divorce, Family Law. No Comments

The Fairfax County Circuit Court recently issued an opinion that sheds light on an important aspect of Virginia divorce law: when divorcing parties include a provision for spousal support in a separation agreement that is incorporated into a divorce decree, that spousal support can only be modified later if the language of the agreement specifically allows for modification.

In Gordon v. Gordon, the parties divorced in 2003 after signing a separation agreement that provided for an award of spousal support (alimony). The Agreement made support non-modifiable, stating:

The husband agrees to pay to the wife, as and for her non-modifiable support and maintenance, the sum of One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00) per month, the initial payment to be made on the first day of the month following execution of this Agreement by both parties, and to continue in consecutive monthly installments on the first … Read More »


Six Things to Keep in Mind Before Signing a Prenup

Posted on April 3rd, 2014, by Julia Jones in Family Law. No Comments

If you are engaged to be married, you may be considering entering into a prenuptial agreement or “prenup” with your spouse-to-be. Although popular recognition of prenuptial agreements has grown thanks to celebrity divorces, prenups are still relatively uncommon in everyday marriages. If you or your soon-to-be spouse are pursuing a prenuptial agreement for your upcoming marriage, here are six things to keep in mind as you move forward:

Remember the purpose. Perhaps this is opinion, but the purpose of a prenuptial agreement is more about simplifying and reducing the costs of a potential divorce, and less about defining the marriage relationship or dictating the behavior of either spouse. Keeping this in mind should help you determine which terms are necessary to include and which terms are not.
Protect what you have now. People often enter into prenuptial agreements to protect the separate assets … Read More »


The Affidavit of Support in Immigration Law

Posted on April 1st, 2014, by Jennifer Varughese in Immigration Law. No Comments

The Affidavit of Support is an immigration law document that places special obligations on an immigrant’s sponsor. It is very important that both those signing the document (i.e., U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents) and the sponsored immigrants understand exactly what an Affidavit of Support is, and what it means. It is also important that family law attorneys, who may see such documents in divorce proceedings, have a general understanding of the Affidavit of Support.

To aid in the understanding of sponsors, immigrants, and family law attorneys, here are answers to five frequently asked questions about the all-important Affidavit of Support:

What is an Affidavit of Support? The Affidavit of Support is a document an individual signs to accept financial responsibility for another person, usually a relative, who is coming to the United States to live permanently. Make no mistake, the Affidavit … 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 »


Federal Retirement Division in Virginia Divorce

Posted on March 19th, 2014, by Jonathan McHugh in Family Law. No Comments

When facing divorce, both federal civilian government employees and their spouses need to be familiar with how their retirement accounts are structured, funded, and, ultimately, how they could be affected by a divorce. Most federal civilian employees these days are covered by FERS, the Federal Employee Retirement System. FERS consists of three components: the Basic Benefit Plan, Thrift Savings Plan and Social Security. If you or your spouse are a federal employee, here is what you need to know about the treatment of FERS benefits in Virginia divorce:

BASIC BENEFIT PLAN

The Basic Benefit Plan is the defined benefit plan component of FERS. It is a monthly annuity that employees are eligible to receive upon retirement.

Eligibility: All federal government civilian employees, with very few exceptions, hired after December 31, 1983 are automatically enrolled in the Basic Benefit Plan.

Vesting: In order to be vested in the Basic Benefit Plan, … Read More »


What is the Statute of Limitations on Child Support in Virginia?

Posted on March 18th, 2014, by Danielle Snead in Family Law. No Comments

As explained in Six Ways to Enforce A Child Support Order in Virginia, failure to pay a court-ordered child support obligation can have serious consequences in Virginia. Specifically, an obligor’s failure to pay can result in withholding of their wages, the suspension of professional, recreational or driver’s licenses, liens on their assets, interception of tax returns, restrictions on international travel, or even an order garnishing part of their retirement benefits.

After learning of their options for collecting past due child support, the next question many recipients of support have is: is there a statue of limitations on child support in Virginia?

The Virginia Supreme Court answered this question in 2011, when it ruled in Adcock v. Department of Social Services that child support obligations are set judgments which are subject to a 20-year statute of limitations. In Adcock, the father of a child was obligated, through a … Read More »




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