Category:Family Law


Military Deployment and Child Custody in Virginia

Posted on July 10th, 2014, by Anneshia Miller Grant in Custody, Family Law, Military Divorce. No Comments

“Im Deploying! How does that affect my custodial or visitation rights to my child?”

Deploying is a unique and difficult fact of life for most every military family. For those parents involved in a custody or visitation dispute, deployment can be an even more stressful event, as the deploying parent must also be concerned with arrangements for his or her child during the required absence.

Given that Virginia has the second largest military population in the United States, it is not surprising that in 2008 the Virginia legislature addressed the concerns of deploying parents with a statutory scheme designed to protect the custodial or visitation rights of our men and women in uniform.

The Virginia Military Parents Equal Protection Act, incorporated into Virginia Code Sections 20-124.7 through 20-124.10, defines who is considered to be a deploying parent, including not only active duty but … Read More »


How to Protect Yourself as the Breadwinning Spouse

Posted on June 26th, 2014, by Julia Jones in Divorce, Family Law. No Comments

Divorce can be financially difficult for both parties, particularly in today’s economy. If you are the breadwinning spouse, you may face special difficulties—which include but are not limited to the following:

Your spouse doesn’t (or refuses to) work, so you may be looking at higher amounts of spousal support and child support.
Your name is tied to all of the marital debts because your spouse doesn’t have good credit.
You’re stuck paying everything: a mortgage, two car payments, and massive credit card debt that is more than you can afford.
Your spouse recklessly increases your debt, and only you are held responsible.
Your spouse has requested pendente lite support and attorney’s fees to help him or her carry on the divorce lawsuit.

Unfortunately, these are examples of some of the pitfalls that come with being the breadwinning spouse. Here are four tips to help protect yourself before, during … Read More »


Spousal Support Duration in Virginia

Posted on June 25th, 2014, by Danielle Snead in Divorce, Family Law. No Comments

Among the most common questions for many people facing divorce are those relating to spousal support: will the court order spousal support? If so, how much—and for how long? As explained in Is It Really Cheaper To Keep Her Or (Him)?, both local guidelines and the Virginia Code provide guidance on how trial courts are to go about determining the amount and duration of support. However, even with local guidelines and the factors stated in Virginia Code Section 20-107.1, awards of support vary greatly case by case. Nevertheless, the Virginia Court of Appeals recently reiterated the importance of the Code factors, in the Fairfax County divorce case Cleary v. Cleary.

The parties in Cleary were married for 17 years and had three children during the marriage. Both parties were employed, with the husband working as a financial advisor and the wife working as … Read More »


Property Settlement Agreements and College Expenses

Posted on June 24th, 2014, by Jonathan McHugh in Family Law. No Comments

The importance of education and obtaining a college degree has grown over the years, to the point where most, if not all, parents make it one of their highest priorities when raising their children. Given the rising costs of attending college, in some instances reaching in excess of $50,000 per year, figuring out how to pay for a child’s education can be a challenge. That challenge is heightened when parents find themselves separated or pursuing a divorce.

When a Virginia Court enters an order regarding child support, the parties’ legal obligation usually ends when the child or children reach the age of 18. However, Virginia Code Section 20-124.2(C) provides that any child support order shall include language ordering parents to support any child who is over the age of 18 who is (i) a full-time high school student, (ii) not self-supporting, and (iii) living in the … Read More »


Incarcerated Parents and Child Support in Virginia

Posted on June 17th, 2014, by Ariel Baniowski in Family Law. No Comments

What happens to a non-custodial parent’s child support obligation in Virginia if they are incarcerated and child support has already been ordered? Does their obligation to pay support automatically freeze, modify, or terminate? Should the incarcerated parent petition the court for a modification in their obligation? Is the parent in jail entitled to a modification after and because of their incarceration?

The answers to these questions may surprise you.

Will the Incarcerated Parent’s Child Support Obligation Be Modified?

In Virginia, the answer to this question is: probably not. A Virginia court is unlikely to modify an already existing child support order in lieu of a non-custodial parent’s recent incarceration.

In order to modify an existing child support order in Virginia, the petitioning party must demonstrate that a material change in circumstances has occurred, since entry of the last order, that warrants a modification. Naturally, incarceration is … Read More »


Assisted Conception and Paternity Rights in Virginia

Posted on June 9th, 2014, by Carolyn Eaton in Family Law. No Comments

Actor Jason Patric has a case in the California courts that has gained national media attention recently because it involves the paternity rights of sperm donors. Patric’s child was conceived by his former girlfriend through in vitro fertilization using Patric’s sperm. Now he’s fighting to be declared the legal father of that child and to have custody and visitation rights established.

In 2013, the Virginia Supreme Court decided a similar case involving assisted conception: L. F. v. Breit, 285 Va. 163; 736 S. E. 2d 711. The biological father in that case, William Breit, was also seeking to have paternity established, as well as custody and visitation rights, for a child that was conceived via in vitro fertilization using his sperm. Unlike the California parties, William Breit and his long time, live-in girlfriend entered into a written custody and visitation agreement, … Read More »


Early Termination of Rental Agreements for Domestic Violence Victims

Posted on June 4th, 2014, by Benjamin Carafiol in Family Law. No Comments

Last year, Virginia expanded the relief available to victims of domestic violence obtaining a final protective order. The typical remedies a victim of family abuse may seek in Virginia are found in Virginia Code Section 16.1-279.1, and include prohibiting acts of future family abuse, prohibiting some or all contact between the victim and the offender, and granting possession of the residence occupied by the parties to the petitioning party. The option of an abuse victim to terminate a rental agreement early, however, is not contained in this Section. It is instead located in Virginia Code Chapter 55, which deals with property and conveyances.

Virginia Code Sections 55-225.16 and 55-248.21:2 both provide that any tenant who has been a victim of (a) family abuse, (b) sexual abuse, or (c) other criminal sexual assault may terminate their rental agreement under certain circumstances. Those … Read More »


“Untying the Knot” Brings Divorce Further Into the Public Eye

Posted on May 29th, 2014, by Matthew Smith in Divorce, Family Law. No Comments

There was a time when divorce was never spoken about on television or in pop culture. In 1962, “The Lucy Show” became the first program to prominently feature the character of a divorced woman (with the character of Lucy’s housemate, divorcée Vivian Bagley).

Today, popular dramas like “The Good Wife” and “Mad Men” feature main characters who are divorced, and any stigma that once existed has disappeared. Reality programs like “The Real Housewives” and “Divorce Court” allow the masses to ogle the “private” lives of those seeking fame but settling for 15 minutes of uncomfortable notoriety.

Now comes a new twist on the portrayal of divorce on television: “Untying the Knot,” which premieres on the Bravo network on June 4th at 10:00 p.m., starring New Jersey matrimonial attorney Vikki Ziegler, along with “appraisal experts” Mark and Michael Millea.

Each episode … Read More »


New Child Support Guidelines: “Material Change” or Not?

Posted on May 19th, 2014, by Stephanie Sauer in Family Law. No Comments

As discussed in Virginia Poised to Update Child Support Guidelines, on July 1, 2014 Virginia child support laws will significantly change. Parents with no child support order in place may benefit from waiting until July 1st to file new cases, as they may receive more support under the new guidelines.

But what about the parent with a child support order in place under the old guidelines? Can he or she request a review of child support based on the new laws? The short answer is: yes.

The longer answer is as follows. Virginia courts can modify any child support order based on a “material change of circumstances.” Case law provides that changes to state law are material changes that justify the court reviewing the previous support order. Parents therefore have the right to request a review and modification of child support based on the new … Read More »


Dating Websites Providing More Divorce Evidence

Posted on May 5th, 2014, by Matthew Smith in Divorce, Family Law. No Comments

Ever wonder whether the era of online dating has led to more separations and divorces? According to a recent survey of the nation’s top divorce attorneys, the answer is yes. Fifty-nine percent of respondents in the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) have seen an increase in the number of cases using evidence from dating websites during the past three years.

Online dating contributes to divorce rates, but is also assisting divorce lawyers across the country in building their cases with easy-to-obtain evidence that can become critical to litigation outcomes.

Of those divorce attorneys surveyed, 64% cited Match.com as a primary source, with eHarmony.com running a distant second at 9%. Fifty-seven percent of AAML respondents singled out the “Relationship Status” listed by users as the most common piece of evidence utilized in their divorce cases, while 15% noted Salary and 7% listed … Read More »


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