The Difference Between Jurisdiction and Venue
Jurisdiction and venue are two very different legal terms that are often, and wrongly, used interchangeably.
Jurisdiction is the power of a court to adjudicate a case upon the merits and dispose of it as justice may require. Litigants cannot bestow this power on the court by waiver or consent; jurisdiction can only be granted to a court by constitution or legislation. In Virginia, a court has jurisdiction over a family law case if it has (1) jurisdiction over the subject matter, (2) jurisdiction over the person, and (3) jurisdiction to render the specific relief sought. For example, pursuant to Virginia Code Section 20-96, the circuit courts in Virginia have jurisdiction over suits for annulment, divorce, separate maintenance, and for affirming marriages.
In contrast, venue is the place where the power to adjudicate a controversy is exercised, and it can be waived … Read More »
The juvenile and domestic relations district courts (“J&DR courts”) in the Commonwealth of Virginia have jurisdiction over cases to determine child custody and visitation. While this jurisdiction is “concurrent” with the circuit courts (meaning either court can hear such a case), a vast majority of custody disputes begin—and end—in J&DR courts. Parties to custody cases before a J&DR court do retain the automatic right to appeal any decision to the circuit court for a brand new trial, meaning that parents could potentially have to go through a complete custody trial not once, but twice, before being able to move on with their lives.
This reason is one among many that could lead parties to resolve a custody battle through a negotiated agreement. But the last thing a parent wants to face is the other parent backing out of an agreed-upon custody arrangement, … Read More »
“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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »