Category:Family Law


Prenups for Same-Sex Couples in Virginia

Posted on October 20th, 2014, by Anneshia Miller Grant in Family Law. No Comments

The U.S. Supreme Court announced on October 6, 2014 that it was not going to consider appeals from lawmakers in five states, including Virginia, who wished to uphold same-sex marriage bans. The result: same-sex couples now have the right to get married in Virginia.

As with any other couples, same-sex couples should always consider a premarital agreement, more commonly referred to as a prenuptial agreement or “prenup,” prior to entering into marriage. Especially as Virginia divorce law changes to accommodate same-sex couples, the use of a prenup can ensure that parties to a same-sex marriage are protected despite any shifts or ambiguities in the law.

Despite the widely held belief that prenups are only for the rich, a premarital agreement is something that every couple should consider. A prenup protects the premarital assets of one or both parties and allows a couple to contemplate … Read More »


Custody and Visitation Do’s and Don’ts

Posted on October 16th, 2014, by Jonathan McHugh in Custody, Family Law. No Comments

Parents going through a divorce or encountering custody or visitation issues can face a very difficult and stressful time. Each custody case is different, and there is no definitive “how-to” guide which will answer every question that might come up in your case. However, the following list of do’s and don’ts should provide a helpful starting point:

Do:

Do your best to cooperate and co-parent while your case is pending or while you are awaiting your hearing.
Explain to your children, depending on their age and maturity level, generally what is happening and why Mom and Dad may have to go to court. If the kids may have to go court, more conversations need to take place or perhaps a guardian ad litem (GAL) should be involved in the case.
Keep a journal and/or a calendar of what you do as a parent on a weekly or monthly … Read More »


How to Maximize Your Family Law Initial Consultation

Posted on October 6th, 2014, by Carolyn Eaton in Custody, Divorce, Family Law. No Comments

The first step for most people in obtaining legal counsel for a custody, divorce or other family law matter is to have an initial consultation with an attorney. Most consultations are scheduled for one-half to one full hour and most family lawyers in Northern Virginia do charge a consultation fee. The consultation is your opportunity to describe your situation to an attorney and receive an overview of the legal issues in your case, and perhaps a proposed course of action. It is also your opportunity to interview the lawyer in order to decide if they are the person to best represent you and your legal interests. Likewise, the consultation allows the attorney to determine if the case is one in which they can offer assistance.

Here are ten tips to help you make the most of your family law initial consultation:

Seek advice as … Read More »


Service of Process Through Social Media

Posted on September 26th, 2014, by Benjamin Carafiol in Family Law. No Comments

Any person taken to court has certain rights that must be respected. The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution require that neither the federal government nor individual states deprive anyone of life, liberty or property without “due process of law.” At its most fundamental level, due process requires the defendant be served with notice that a case has been filed against them, and given the opportunity to appear before the court to defend themselves.

The increasing mobility of individuals in our society has added complexity to the issues of due process. Pioneers took six months to travel across the country on the Oregon Trail in the mid-1800s, risking disease and death along the way. Today, someone can load up their belongings in a U-Haul truck and relocate across the entire country in about a week. This extreme freedom and ease … Read More »


Cooling Hot-Button School-Related Co-Parenting Issues

Posted on September 11th, 2014, by Matthew Smith in Custody, Family Law. No Comments

As the calendar turns to September and football season begins anew, children all over the country have returned to school. For them, the carefree days of summer give way to the structured rigors of academic pursuits. But their parents may enjoy the respite that school hours provide.

With the start of a new school year upon us, perhaps it’s a good time to revisit some of the most contentious issues that separated or divorced parents grapple with when their children are in school.

Information Sharing. A classic area of animosity involves the use of children as a conduit for information between parents, which should generally be a no-no. This places your child squarely between you and your ex-spouse, and will lead to unintended negative consequences. There should be no need for Jimmy to tell mom about the parent-teacher conference next week, because … Read More »


Four Pitfalls to Avoid in Your Custody Case

Posted on September 3rd, 2014, by Stephanie Sauer in Custody, Family Law. No Comments

Parents sometimes unintentionally sabotage their own custody cases. Sometimes the sabotage happens before the parent retains counsel, and other times it happens after an attorney is involved. Here are four pitfalls to avoid if you want to win your custody case:

1. Failure to cooperate with all attorneys involved. If you are represented by an attorney, it is extremely unlikely that you will speak to opposing counsel, except at trial. However, you will need to interact with your own counsel and possibly one other attorney—a Guardian ad Litem (GAL). It is imperative that you are cooperative and honest with both these attorneys.

Hopefully, you hired your attorney because he or she is competent, knows the law, and impressed you. It is important to listen to your attorney’s advice. If you believe you are not receiving good advice then seek a second opinion before you disregard your attorney’s advice … Read More »


How Does Relocation Affect Your Custody and Visitation Order?

Posted on August 26th, 2014, by Anneshia Miller Grant in Custody, Family Law. 1 Comment

Summertime! It is the time of year where many of our military families are going through their permanent change of station (PCS) moves, and many of our civilian families are moving before the new school year begins.

What does relocation mean for separated or divorced parents who are co-parenting a child in Virginia? The juvenile and domestic relations district courts of Virginia will examine the best interests of the child in each case by applying the statutory factors of Virginia Code Section 20-124.3; but a relocating parent has a significant burden beyond those factors.

Where there is a current court order in place, an impending relocation is always considered a material change in circumstances which allows the court to re-examine the facts of the case.

Unfortunately for the parent hoping to relocate, the current trend of the Virginia Court of Appeals in the … Read More »


Child Preference in Virginia Custody and Visitation Cases

Posted on August 20th, 2014, by Jonathan McHugh in Custody, Family Law. No Comments

When a couple decides to separate and pursue a divorce, there are countless questions and issues that can arise. However, there are also some difficult questions that await the teenage child or children of divorcing parents. Perhaps the most difficult question to answer is: “Who do I want live with after Mom and Dad are divorced?” The answer to this question can go a long way towards determining the final custody and visitation arrangement for that child.

In making a custody or visitation determination, a Virginia court will consider what is in the best interests of the child, according to the factors laid out in Virginia Code Section 20-124.3. One of the most important factors listed in that code section is: “The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of reasonable intelligence, understanding, age and experience … Read More »


Legal vs. Physical Custody in Virginia: What’s the Difference?

Posted on August 13th, 2014, by Carolyn Eaton in Custody, Family Law. No Comments

Every parent involved in a child custody dispute is concerned about the kind of custody and visitation arrangement that will result. Regardless of whether the court decides custody or the parents reach an agreement which is then approved by the court, there are two aspects of custody that must be addressed in every case: legal custody and physical custody.

In Virginia, one possible custody option is one parent being awarded sole legal custody and sole physical custody, with a visitation schedule for the other parent. An alternative to that “sole custody” arrangement would be “joint custody.”

Virginia Code Section 20-124.1 defines joint custody as follows:

joint legal custody, where both parents retain joint responsibility for the care and control of the child and joint authority to make decisions concerning the child even though the child’s primary residence may be with only one parent;
joint … Read More »


Family Care Plans and Custody Orders in Virginia

Posted on August 12th, 2014, by Anneshia Miller Grant in Custody, Family Law, Military Divorce. No Comments

A Family Care Plan (FCP) is a document that certain active duty or reserve servicemembers, and some DOD civilians, are required by the Department of Defense to maintain in order to ensure that their children (and incapacitated parents) are taken care of if they are called away to service.

Any person required by DOD Instruction 1342.19 to maintain a Family Care Plan must do so in a certain amount of time. Other than the requirements with respect to timely filing, the instructions are fairly broad as to what can and should be included in the FCP.

At a minimum, a Family Care Plan allows the military member to designate another party to care for his or her child during any period where the member is unavailable due to military service obligations.

Though the DOD requires this plan of action and files it in each servicemember’s … Read More »


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