The Livesay & Myers Blog
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 »
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 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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
In Virginia, March Madness carries multiple meanings. For most, at least in recent years, March Madness has been the time for our “mid-major” universities, George Mason and Virginia Commonwealth, just to name two, to shock the nation and make runs at the Final Four, while our major universities disappoint. In 2014, the University of Virginia appears poised to reverse this trend, and perhaps make a deep run in the tournament.
But madness in the month of March also means the end of the Virginia General Assembly session. The Virginia system of governance, with our part-time citizen delegates and senators, always provides ample fodder for water cooler discussion. Each Virginia delegate can introduce or “sponsor” an innumerable number of new bills, many of which could make an appearance on one of those desk calendars with a crazy law for every day of the … Read More »
In the course of your divorce or custody litigation, you may be required to answer written questions under oath (Interrogatories), provide copies of various documents that are relevant to your case (Requests for Production of Documents), and admit or deny various allegations from your spouse (Requests for Admissions). Along with depositions and subpoenas, this process is collectively referred to as “discovery.” And it’s no fun.
The purpose of discovery is to enable each party to determine the facts of the case and ascertain what evidence may be available for use at trial or to effect a settlement. This prevents a “trial by ambush,” with secret witnesses and exhibits being presented without advanced notice. Responding to discovery requests is not optional, and failure to answer fully and truthfully can result in punishment by the court. Discovery can easily become a boondoggle for … Read More »
Mixed Martial Arts (“MMA”) has been a sport for about 20 years, but in the last several years, it has gone from being a fringe spectacle to a mainstream sport covered by ESPN and airing matches on major networks. An initial glance at a singular fight might illicit myriad emotions from the viewer, ranging from excitement to disgust. You might view fighters as thugs or beasts, or you may see them as noble gladiators or elite athletes. Whatever your opinion, there is one undeniable fact: the fifteen or so minutes that make up the fight are just a fraction of the time, preparation and work that goes into an MMA contest.
The criminal trial process is extremely similar to an MMA fight, much more than you might realize. Criminal lawyers are often judged based upon their performance in the courtroom, but the … Read More »
Military divorce cases often involve discussion of military retired pay, the Survivor Benefit Plan, and continuation of the spouse’s medical benefits after divorce. A growing topic of discussion in these cases is the servicemember’s education benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Increasingly, these benefits are becoming a topic of negotiation in separation agreements between divorcing couples.
The GI Bill can cover all in-state tuition and fees at public degree-granting schools. It also provides for a housing stipend and book allowance while in school. The benefits may be used up to 15 years after the servicemember’s discharge from active duty. Eligibility for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits requires a minimum of six years of service. Separate requirements apply for reservists. Servicemembers may transfer their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to a spouse or child, but only after meeting an additional service obligation of four years.
Under 38 U.S.C. § 3020(f)(3), Post-9/11 … Read More »