Category:Family Law


Treatment of College Savings Accounts in Virginia Divorce

Posted on May 3rd, 2016, by Jonathan McHugh in Divorce, Family Law. No Comments

With the rising costs of college education, many families are establishing college savings accounts for their children. While this is certainly a good and well-thought out plan for the future, it is unlikely that parents ever consider this question: What happens to the college savings accounts upon a divorce?

College savings accounts, including Virginia 529 plans, are usually titled in names of one or both parents, who are technically the “owner” or “owners” of such accounts. The child is then listed as the beneficiary on the account. Depending on the type of account and the plan’s rules and regulations, a child will have a certain number of years to use money from the college savings account for their educational pursuits.

In a Virginia divorce which involves the division of assets and liabilities, Virginia Code Section 20-107.3 mandates that the court must classify … Read More »


Virginia Supreme Court Rules in Same-Sex Cohabitation Case

Posted on April 28th, 2016, by James Livesay in Family Law. No Comments

Livesay & Myers, P.C. family law attorney Anneshia Miller Grant achieved a major victory today, in a case she fought on behalf of her client all the way to the Virginia Supreme Court.

In the case, Luttrell v. Cucco, the Supreme Court answered the question, can same-sex couples “cohabit in a relationship analogous to a marriage” for purposes of termination of spousal support under Virginia Code § 20-109(A)?

Mr. Luttrell had been paying spousal support to Ms. Cucco since their divorce in 2008. In 2014, Mr. Luttrell moved the Fairfax County Circuit Court to terminate his support obligation on the ground that Ms. Cucco was engaged to be married and had been cohabiting continuously for over one year with her same-sex partner. The court denied the motion, ruling that only opposite-sex couples could cohabit for purposes of termination of support under Code § 20-109(A). The Virginia … Read More »


Child Support and the Teenage Father

Posted on April 21st, 2016, by Carolyn Eaton in Family Law. No Comments

When most people hear the phrase “teen pregnancy,” they think only of the teenage mothers. But, there are also teenage fathers. Under the law in Virginia, a teenage boy can be determined by the court to be the father of a child, and can be ordered to pay child support for that baby. In proceedings to establish paternity, establish a child support obligation or enforce a child support obligation, teenage boys cannot escape the court’s ruling because of their age.

Pursuant to Virginia Code Section 20-49.6, a teenage boy between 14 and 18 years of age can be determined by the court to be the father of a child and ordered by the court to pay child support for that child as if he were an adult, if (1) the teenage boy is represented by a guardian ad litem, and (2) the teenage boy has … Read More »


Admissibility of Recorded Telephone Conversations in Virginia

Posted on April 13th, 2016, by Caitlyn Stubbs in Divorce, Family Law. No Comments

Parties facing a divorce or other family law litigation in Virginia often ask the question: would it help their case to record telephone conversations with the opposing party? The answer to this question may surprise you.

The Virginia Code sets out a surprising barrier for the use of recorded telephone conversations. Virginia Code Section 8.01-420.2 sets a general bar to the admissibility of recorded phone calls in civil court proceedings, unless all parties are aware that the conversation is being recorded. Unlike voicemails and recorded physical interactions, a telephone conversation would provide the opportunity to record without all parties’ awareness that the recording was being made. In a voicemail, the party intends that the message will be recorded, and pulling out your phone and placing it on the table is a tipoff that you may be recording an in-person interaction.

For telephone conversations, however, Section 8.01-420.2 … Read More »


Annulment vs. Divorce in Virginia

Posted on April 6th, 2016, by Amanda Stone Swart in Divorce, Family Law. No Comments

Many times when it becomes obvious that a marriage is heading towards failure, the question arises whether it would be best to seek an annulment or a divorce. To answer that question, one must first understand how annulment differs from divorce, and the different remedies a court may award upon a divorce vs. upon an annulment.

Many people confuse the legal annulment with a religious annulment. A legal annulment is a determination by the court that the marriage never existed. It can only be granted in a limited number of circumstances that are very rare.

A very small number of marriages may be annulled because they were void ab initio—meaning they were never valid marriages. Those marriages include bigamous and polygamous marriages, incestuous marriages, and underage marriages. See Virginia Code Section 20-38.1. These “void” marriages are deemed to have never legally existed, … Read More »


Bankruptcy and Divorce in Virginia

Posted on March 24th, 2016, by Danielle Snead in Divorce, Family Law. No Comments

Due to hard economic times, more and more parties are considering filing for bankruptcy. Even if you have not contemplated filing yourself, if you are facing the dissolution of your marriage you may find that your spouse has filed. Here are three things to know if you find yourself facing a separation or divorce in Virginia where one spouse has filed for bankruptcy:

Joint Debts. One of the most frequently asked questions when one party files for bankruptcy, either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, is whether or not the non-filing spouse will be responsible for the discharged debts of the spouse who filed for bankruptcy. The answer is: it depends on how the debts are held. If a discharged debt is one that the filing spouse solely incurred and held solely in their own name, then the non-filing spouse will not be responsible for such debt. … Read More »


What Happens When Child Support is Not Paid in Virginia

Posted on March 11th, 2016, by Carolyn Eaton in Family Law. No Comments

A child support order has been established obligating one parent, called the obligor, to pay child support for the benefit of the child. Time has passed and the obligor has not paid the child support, has not paid it consistently or has only paid a portion of the ordered amount. What next?

Unpaid child support, called an “arrearage” or “back child support,” becomes a judgement by operation of law, and cannot be set aside, changed or discharged in bankruptcy. If the obligor is not paying the ordered amount of child support, a Motion to Show Cause can be filed that requires the obligor to appear in court for a hearing to explain to the judge why he or she should not be held in contempt of court for failing to pay as ordered. Contempt of court for failure to pay can … Read More »


Four Child Custody Myths in Virginia

Posted on March 9th, 2016, by Ariel Baniowski in Custody, Family Law. No Comments

It is not uncommon for parents facing a custody and visitation dispute to enter it with preconceived notions of what the court will and should consider in deciding their case. Upon sitting down with a family lawyer for their initial consultation, these parents usually start off by listing the facts and circumstances they believe to be most important to the custody or visitation issues involved. Although many of the facts these parents think are important will affect the court’s determination, many others will actually have less of an impact in their case than they might hope for.

In determining the best interests of the child for purposes of determining custody and visitation, Virginia courts are bound to consider the factors listed in Virginia Code Section 20-124.3. Though the factors listed in the statute are not exclusive, they pretty accurately capture the … Read More »


Protective Order Defense: Understanding the Allegations

Posted on March 4th, 2016, by Laila Raheen in Family Law. No Comments

On occasion, a spouse in Virginia may find themselves defending against a petition for a protective order on the basis of family abuse without having complete knowledge or understanding of the allegations against them. This places that spouse at a tremendous disadvantage. However, the defending party can take certain steps in advance to determine the allegations against them so as to mount an effective defense.

Pursuant to Virginia Code Section 16.1-253.1, upon filing of a petition alleging that the petitioner is or has been, within a reasonable period of time, subjected to family abuse, the court may issue a preliminary protective order against an allegedly abusing person in order to protect the health and safety of the petitioner or any family or household member of the petitioner. Section 16.1-253.1 gives judges the authority to issue a preliminary protective order in an … Read More »


Making Child Marriage Harder in Virginia

Posted on March 2nd, 2016, by Benjamin Carafiol in Family Law. No Comments

Efforts to Restrict Marriage of Minors Advance Through Virginia Legislature

Many spouses going through separation and divorce lament that the laws of Virginia make it much easier to get married than they do to get divorced. A divorce proceeding requires a reason to want to end the marriage and in most cases the spouses must be separated for more than a year before their divorce can be finalized. This leads to the not-uncommon situation where spouses must live separately for longer than they were married before getting their divorce!

In contrast, to get married in Virginia, two eligible parties must only obtain a marriage license and perform a ceremony. There are no required blood tests or number or witnesses to validate a marriage. The age requirement for marriage in Virginia is sixteen for both parties. However, if either party is under eighteen, … Read More »


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