The Livesay & Myers, P.C. Blog
At what age is it legal to leave a child home alone in Virginia?
It may come as a surprise that there is not a Virginia law that answers this exact question. There is no specific age at which you can legally leave your child at home alone unattended. However, there is guidance set forth from the Virginia Department of Social Services that parents should consider when making this determination:
Your child’s maturity level. You know your child better than anyone else does. Is your child physically and mentally capable of taking care of themselves? Think of it this way: when you give your child a specific instruction, are they able to follow it without any additional assistance?
How easily can your child reach you? It is not simply enough that an adult neighbor is available next door: you, as the parent and legal guardian, must be … Read More »
As most parents know, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows parents of dependent children to claim a percentage of their income as exempt from taxes. Separated or divorce parents will usually both want this exemption for themselves, as it can be quite valuable (the exemption was $3,950 per child in 2014). As a child can only be claimed on one tax return per year, a common question in child support cases is who will get the tax dependency exemption each year for each minor child.
According to IRS regulations, the custodial parent is the party entitled to claim the tax exemption for each child. A custodial parent for these purposes is the parent with whom the child resides more than half the time. If the parents have 50/50 custody of a child, resulting in neither party being the “custodial parent,” then the parent … Read More »
Immigration law continues to be a hotbed of legal and political activity in the United States. As we enter May 2015, here are updates on three important areas of immigration law:
Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA)
In November 2014, President Obama announced a new plan for executive action on immigration, which included Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA). As explained in my earlier blog post, DAPA permits immigrants who have sons or daughters who are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents to not only remain in the U.S. but receive work permits as well. The President’s executive action immediately came under scrutiny. On February 16, 2015, a judge in Texas issued a nationwide injunction to stop implementation of DAPA. On April 17, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit … Read More »
Divorce cases come with any number of possible frustrations, for the parties and the attorneys alike. One of the biggest frustrations for clients (and attorneys) is the length of time it takes to move their case towards a final resolution, through a comprehensive settlement or final hearing. Whether you are just now considering a divorce, or are already in the middle of a stalled divorce proceeding, here are four tips for moving your divorce along:
Know Your Attorney: The initial consultation with your attorney, as well as follow up conversations and meetings, should give you an idea of your attorney’s personality and overall strategy for your case. Some attorneys are settlement-oriented, while some will think it’s best to litigate every issue that comes up. You should make sure that you have a clear understanding of the strategy your attorney has for your … Read More »
After a criminal charge has been resolved, many defendants worry about the impact that a conviction, or even simply a public arrest record, may have on them for the rest of their lives. This concern is often overshadowed during criminal litigation by more immediate concerns, primarily the process of determining guilt or innocence. However, it is to the defendant’s advantage to early on understand the long-term impact of a conviction, and what steps they can take to decrease that impact. Far too many defendants wait to worry about the long-term consequences until it is too late to change things, leaving limited or no options available. Prior to the resolution of any criminal charge, every defendant should think long and hard about the potential ramifications of a conviction.
There are limited ways outside of post-conviction litigation that you can clean up your … Read More »
A central part of every divorce involving children is the determination of child custody and visitation rights. In Virginia, a variety of possible physical custody arrangements exist. For example, one parent may have primary physical custody while the other parent has visitation rights, or custody may alternate between parents on a weekly or monthly basis. Regardless of where the child stays on any given night, there are many ways in which he or she can spend time with both parents. “Virtual visitation” is a way for parent and child to maintain a close relationship with possible daily interaction, although they are not physically in the same place. It may be particularly helpful in situations where the parent and child have reduced face-to-face visits because they no longer live in the same geographical area.
Virtual visitation is the use of technology as a means … Read More »
Way, way back in 2012, I wrote My Cousin Vinny and Discovery in Virginia Criminal Cases, which explained the rules for discovery of evidence in Virginia criminal cases.
It appears that those discovery rules are very likely to change. Earlier this month, the Virginia Supreme Court released a report by its “special committee on criminal discovery rules.” Chaired by retired Loudoun County Circuit Court Judge Thomas D. Horne, this committee spent the bulk of 2014 looking at the existing Rules of Discovery and determining whether any changes to them should be proposed. The committee delivered its report to the Supreme Court on December 2, 2014.
In its report, the committee proposed several new rules that, if adopted, would dramatically affect the nature of criminal practice in the Commonwealth of Virginia. It is important to keep in mind that these are recommendations only, not updated law. … Read More »
In Virginia divorce actions, one of the first questions parties often ask is “who is going to get to keep what?”
Virginia is an equitable distribution state, meaning that the court has the authority in any divorce to classify the property of the parties as separate, marital or hybrid. This classification is vitally important, because the court only has the power to divide marital and hybrid property—not any separate property.
In Equitable Distribution: Using Separate Property For A Marital Loan, Livesay & Myers, P.C. associate Danielle Snead explained the Virginia Court of Appeals decision rendered in Layman v. Layman and the impact on property classification when a party uses separate property throughout a marriage.
The Court of Appeals in David v. David, Va. App., Record No. 0653-12-2 (2015) recently highlighted another potential pitfall on the road to proving separate property is actually separate. The David case illustrates … Read More »
In Virginia, a petition for custody or visitation may be filed by either parent or by any “person with a legitimate interest.” Virginia law defines a person with a legitimate interest broadly to include grandparents, stepparents, former stepparents, blood relatives and family members such as aunts, uncles or adult siblings. Once the court finds that a person seeking custody or visitation qualifies under this definition, then it will consider the best interests of the child in determining whether custody or visitation should be granted, and making any other rulings pertaining to the petition before it.
Any person who has had his or her parental rights terminated by a court, or who seeks access to a child for another who has had his or her rights terminated, voluntarily, involuntarily or by adoption, may not be considered a person with a legitimate interest—regardless of … Read More »
According to statistics released on Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Defense, the military’s divorce rate dropped again last year, and has reached its lowest level since 2005.
In 2014, the divorce rate among enlisted and officer men and women was 3.1 percent. The military divorce rate has steadily decreased since 2011, when it reached a high of 3.7 percent. In 2001, when the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were beginning, the rate was only 2.6 percent.
By contrast, the civilian divorce rate stands at approximately 3.6 percent, according to the most current data available.
One gender is largely responsible for the steady decline in military divorces. Since 2011, the female military divorce rate has dropped from 8.0 percent to 6.5 percent, accounting for most of the overall reduction. Female Marines saw the largest decrease in divorces, from 9.5 percent in 2011 to … Read More »