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 »
As a family law attorney, I focus on resolving the problems that arise from the breakdown of a marriage. I am referring to the legal issues of custody, visitation, support, and equitable distribution, all of which must be addressed as part of any divorce case involving minor children. Nonetheless, when clients call on me for advice, often their questions focus not strictly on legal issues, but on how to deal with the more practical consequences of divorce. Frequently among them, where there are minor children, is the question of how one should go about speaking to a child about divorce.
Although there is no one best way to break the news to a child, here are five tips for talking to your son or daughter about divorce:
Try to focus on what will be immediately relevant and understandable to your child. In … Read More »
As you may have already heard, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia has ruled that Virginia’s voter-approved 2006 Marshall-Newman Amendment (aka the Virginia Marriage Amendment) is unconstitutional. The Amendment modified the Constitution of Virginia to (a) prevent the legal recognition of any union or partnership between same-sex couples, and (b) define “marriage” as exclusively between one man and one woman. In Bostic v. Rainey, decided on February 13, 2014, U.S. District Court Judge Arenda Wright Allen found the Virginia ban on same-sex marriage to violate the Due Process and Equal Protection provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The judge wrote in her opinion that ”[g]overnment interests in perpetuating traditions, shielding state matters from federal interference, and favoring one model of parenting over others must yield to this country’s cherished protections that ensure the exercise of the private … Read More »
In the course of almost a decade practicing family law in Virginia, I’ve been able to identify some of the best and worst practices in the field. Four times out of five, if I’m familiar with opposing counsel in a case of mine, I’ll know how the case will proceed. After a while you can identify the attorneys who have their clients’ best interests constantly in mind, and the ones who are lazy or (far worse) less than honest and have the tendency to “milk” a case when simple solutions exist. Luckily these attorneys make up only a narrow sliver of our practice area, but their behavior can give us all a bad name.
Attorneys matter, and who you and your spouse select will have an enormous impact on the way your divorce plays out, for better or worse. Here are … Read More »
When going through a contested divorce or custody case many clients struggle with the concept of discovery, why it is necessary, and how it can benefit their case. Discovery is the legal process in which a party may ask questions of the other party and request documents relevant to the case. Discovery is an integral part of the litigation process because it provides notice to each side of the specific issues in contest, and evidence to help build their case. Many clients find that discovery can be their greatest asset or their worst enemy. For those clients that struggle with the discovery process it is generally because they are unprepared. Here are five tips for making the discovery process work for you:
Prepare before or at the beginning of the case. Discovery is typically issued at the onset of the case. Once … Read More »
Delegate Scott A. Surovell, a Fairfax family law attorney, has introduced House Bill 940 (HB 940) to decriminalize adultery in Virginia. Virginia Code Section 18.2-365 defines adultery as the act of a married person voluntarily engaging in sexual intercourse with any person not his or her spouse. Currently, adultery is punishable in Virginia as a Class 4 misdemeanor—which has serious repercussions for parties seeking to divorce their spouse based on the ground of adultery.
Because adultery is a crime in Virginia, a spouse accused of adultery in a divorce can assert their 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination, and refuse to answer questions about the adulterous behavior. This can make proving adultery in Virginia divorce cases extremely challenging. In effect, the criminal law against adultery serves to shield those accused of adultery in their divorce cases.
If HB 940 passes and becomes law, the penalty for committing adultery would … Read More »
We’ve all heard or seen the stories: a scorned husband posts, tweets, uploads, or emails pictures of his wife engaged in sexual acts with someone other than him. Most people are so angry and hurt in the moment that they don’t think about the repercussions—to their significant other or themselves.
Various websites now allow people to post sexual photos of past lovers or spouses, often with explicit commentary. Some of them, such as myex.com, then demand fees to remove material that has been posted. The aftermath of the online harassment for the victim (which is usually, although not always, a woman) can be devastating.
Activists are lobbying state legislatures across the county to take action and prevent this behavior, which has become known as “revenge porn.”
Delegate Marcus Simon of Falls Church introduced House Bill 49 to address, at least in part, revenge porn in Virginia. … Read More »
On January 14, 2014, in the published opinion of Mayer v. Mayer, the Virginia Court of Appeals provided some much-needed guidance regarding continued child support for disabled children under Virginia law. Per Virginia Code § 20-124.2 a parent may petition and the court may grant the continuation of support for any child over the age of 18 who is (a) severely and permanently mentally or physically disabled, (b) unable to live independently and support himself, and (c) resides in the home of the parent seeking or receiving child support. However, there has been no bright-line rule as to whether the petition for continued support has to be filed before the child is emancipated in order for the court to consider it, or whether it can be filed after emancipation. The Court of Appeals in Mayer greatly clarified Virginia law in this area, by ruling that (1) … Read More »
Modification to Virginia Code Would Allow Consolidated Petitions
The issues of child custody and visitation are about as connected as any two issues can be. If you have any experience with Virginia custody cases, however, you know that it can feel like each part of your case has its own case number. And that’s because, by and large, it does! The Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Courts here in Virginia will assign one identification number for a child custody case and give a second, different number to a visitation case… for the same child. If paternity is an issue that becomes a third case number. And if there are multiple children, well, each child gets his or her own set of unique case numbers for his or her custody matter. Parents in a custody dispute can find themselves with more than … Read More »
Parties in custody or visitation disputes often find themselves in two separate counties or even states. This frequently leaves the parties to wonder which court has the authority to resolve the outstanding issues. If parties to a custody dispute, in which no previous order has been issued, file petitions in two different states, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) will dictate which state has the authority to make the custody determination. The UCCJEA is an act that has been adopted by 49 out of the 50 states, including Virginia, as an attempt to provide consistency between the states and prevent parents from moving to a certain state for a preferential outcome.
Generally, under the UCCJEA, a state will have jurisdiction to make an initial custody determination if it was the home state of the child when the petition was filed … Read More »