The Livesay & Myers Blog
Many couples who separate for the purpose of divorcing do not have the financial resources or the desire to spend their financial resources on retaining attorneys. We attorneys aren’t offended by the idea of couples mediating between themselves an amicable resolution. However, we always caution people to speak with an attorney before signing any agreement. Some might think it’s our way of getting your money—but the reality in Virginia is that once an agreement is signed it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to set aside.
There is a long standing principle that people can make as good or as bad of a contract as they want. This is especially true in separation agreements, which can be set aside in Virginia only on limited grounds—when they were entered into under “undue influence” or are “unconscionable.”
The difficulty of setting aside separation agreements … Read More »
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 »
You’re a resident of Fairfax County and you have just received every parent’s nightmare—a phone call from the police telling you that your child has been arrested and will be facing criminal charges. For many parents, this will be your first interaction with the justice system and it is important to know that the juvenile system in Fairfax County is nothing like what you see on Law & Order or other TV shows. In fact, the juvenile system is so different from the adult criminal system in Fairfax, in terms of procedure and terminology, that many long-time attorneys find it confusing.
Every criminal charge for a juvenile in Fairfax starts with a “petition” (as opposed to a warrant or indictment for adults). The petition will state the child’s name and address, the name and address of the child’s parents and/or guardians, … Read More »
Driving to purchase groceries, pick up the kids from school, or visit the doctor’s office are tasks most of us do without thinking twice. But for those who don’t qualify for a driver’s license, these everyday chores could be the source of great stress. Many states, including the District of Columbia, have prevented those without valid immigration status from receiving a license. The result has been many undocumented immigrants driving without licenses, which frequently means driving without insurance. This all changed last Tuesday, November 5th, when the D.C. Council approved a bill allowing the city’s undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses.
Estimates are that this new law will allow as many as 15,000 D.C. residents who are undocumented immigrants to receive licenses. Currently, 13 other states allow the undocumented to obtain licenses.
The bill as it was originally introduced to the D.C. … Read More »
A 529 plan is an education savings account that parents may set up to pay their children’s future college education costs. Otherwise known as a “Qualified Tuition Program” in the Internal Revenue Code, 529 plans are typically established through individual states or educational institutions and provide a variety of benefits. The primary benefit is that earnings derived from the investment of a 529 plan are not subject to federal taxation when used to pay college education costs. Unlike 401k accounts, however, the contributions to a 529 plan are not excluded from taxation, and there is no third party “matching” of funds.
To set up a 529 plan, you need one custodian (also known as the account holder), one beneficiary, and a plan administrator to invest the contributions. Parents who set up a 529 plan for their child can do so in … Read More »
When parties file a complaint for divorce, they often ask the court to determine a myriad of issues: spousal support, child support, child custody and visitation, and the division of property. In Virginia, courts will decide how to divide the parties’ property through a process called “equitable distribution.”
The first step in equitable distribution is to classify all property as separate, marital, or hybrid. Generally, marital property is any property that is acquired during the marriage, whereas separate property is any property that was acquired by a party (a) before the marriage, (b) after the parties separated or (c) during the marriage from an inheritance, gift from a third party, or other source outside the marriage. Hybrid property is a mixture of the two: it is separate property that has been commingled with marital property, making it part marital and part separate. … Read More »
When deciding the “best interests of the child” for purposes of a custody and/or visitation determination, Virginia courts look to Virginia Code Section 20-124.3. In large part, that code section asks Virginia trial courts to determine the mental and physical health of the parties and the child, the role each parent has played and will play in the child’s life, the ability and willingness of the each parent to support the child’s other familial relationships, the reasonable preference of the child, and any history of family abuse. Nowhere in the factors listed in Code Section 20-124.3 is the court explicitly asked to address the immigration status of either parent. However, immigration status can have an impact on your custody case if you, or your attorney, are uninformed, and immigration status can complicate the already difficult questions before the court.
Immigration Status … Read More »
For single parents of children with autism or other 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 our 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 autistic children may … Read More »
Defendants in Virginia criminal cases have very limited discovery rights. While in other states a defendant may be entitled to things like police reports, Virginia provides no right to discovery beyond the minimum that is required for due process under the U.S. Constitution—namely, the right to disclosure of exculpatory evidence.
While there are certainly Commonwealth’s Attorneys offices that practice “open file” discovery, and readily provide information to defense attorneys contained within police reports and witness statements that they are not required to disclose, not every office practices that way. Furthermore, unless the evidence is known by the defense to exist, it is up to the Commonwealth’s Attorney and their judgment to determine what evidence is exculpatory and subject to disclosure absent a court order.
As you can imagine, we defense attorneys have the goal of obtaining as much information as possible in order … Read More »
The choice of a family law attorney is always very personal. Given the subject matter, you’ll want to work with someone you can trust, who is nonjudgmental and willing to listen and learn about your circumstances. Considering what may be at stake, your choice of lawyer should be experienced, hard-working and committed, but also willing to find ways to save you money and help you move on as soon as is practical. From my experience, here are three questions that every potential client should have answered before making a significant financial commitment to a custody or divorce attorney:
Will you work as hard to settle my case as you will to try it? At first, this may seem unusual. Working hard to settle means caving in, right? Doesn’t extending an olive branch equate to surrender? Far from it. Contrary to popular … Read More »