Category:Family Law


How Will Divorce Affect Your Immigration Status?

Posted on March 4th, 2015, by Susannah Nichols in Divorce, Immigration Law. No Comments

Going through a divorce can be stressful enough without the added element of marriage-based immigration issues. While all your time and energy may be focused on terminating your marriage, you cannot neglect how this change in your relationship may or may not affect your ability to remain in the United States after your divorce. Here are answers to ten questions which commonly arise when divorce and immigration intersect:

Will separation from my spouse affect my immigration benefits? Generally, no. Physical or legal (court-ordered) separation from your spouse does not constitute a termination of your marriage and will not affect your immigration status. In some states, an extended legal separation may convert into a divorce after a period of time. In these instances, your immigration status would be terminated if it is dependent upon your marriage.
Will my divorce affect my non-immigrant status? If your … Read More »


Is There Any Advantage to Filing First?

Posted on February 23rd, 2015, by Ariel Baniowski in Custody, Divorce, Family Law. No Comments

Family law attorneys are constantly asked what, if any, advantage there is to filing first. Whether it is for divorce, custody or support, the answer is both “yes, there is an advantage” and “no, there is not an advantage.”

The answer is “no,” because your allegations, evidence, and prayers for relief will be reviewed impartially by the court—whether you filed first or not. The judge will not favor either party because of the order of filing.

The answer is “yes” for two main reasons: (1) you get to set the pace for litigation and/or settlement, and (2) you get to speak first and last in the event your case goes to trial.

Setting the Pace

Filing first means having some degree of control over the pace and nature of litigation and/or settlement. Are you hopeful for a settlement, and do you want to demonstrate that to the opposing party? Are you … Read More »


Making the Virginia DCSE Work for You

Posted on February 19th, 2015, by Carolyn Eaton in Family Law. No Comments

You’ve succeeded in getting the court to enter a child support order for your child. It has been a few months and the obligated parent is no longer paying or is not paying the full amount. The child support arrears are growing with every passing month. The Virginia Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE) may be able to get the money flowing again. Below are some tools at their disposal, which you may put to work on behalf of you and your child.

Child Support Enforcement Tools

The primary way to enforce a child support order is through wage withholdings. But if non-custodial parents don’t receive a regular paycheck, are self-employed or work for commissions, the DCSE has other enforcement tools at their disposal. Those tools include placing liens on real or personal property, seizing income or financial assets, intercepting state and federal … Read More »


Spousal Support Jurisdiction Over Non-Residents in Virginia

Posted on February 11th, 2015, by Jonathan McHugh in Divorce, Family Law. No Comments

Imagine a married couple separates and one party moves out of the Commonwealth of Virginia, with no intention to return. The spouse who remains in Virginia wants to pursue a divorce. A circuit court in Virginia can divorce the parties, as long as there are grounds for divorce and the proper procedures are followed. But what if the Virginia resident wants to request spousal support?

For the Virginia court to order spousal support in that situation, it must first find that it has personal or “in personam” jurisdiction over the non-resident. There are several ways that a court can have personal jurisdiction, per Virginia Code §8.01-328.1. There are two, however, that are of particular importance to parties going through a divorce.

First we have Virginia Code §8.01-328.1(A)(8), which provides that a court may exercise personal jurisdiction over a person who:

…executed an agreement … Read More »


Virginia Child and Spousal Support in Military Cases

Posted on February 3rd, 2015, by Anneshia Miller Grant in Family Law, Military Divorce. No Comments

Virginia child or spousal support cases involving military servicemembers present unique and sometimes challenging issues. Servicemembers have a pay structure much different than that of a civilian. Military pay can be any combination of basic pay, benefits, entitlements, allowances, and/or special and incentive pay. With the various types of pay, some taxable, many non-taxable, how does a servicemember know what pay the court will look at to determine spousal or child support? Can the court consider non-taxable pay such as disability pay for spousal support or child support? Are special entitlements such as Post 9-11 GI Bill benefits considered income for purposes of determining support?

Military Pay and Child Support in Virginia

Virginia courts use the same factors in every child support case to determine the amount applicable under the statewide child support guidelines. The court may deviate from “the guidelines amount” … Read More »


The “Inequitable” Billion-Dollar Divorce

Posted on January 23rd, 2015, by Benjamin Carafiol in Divorce, Family Law. No Comments

Appeals Filed By Both Sides

Previously on this Blog, Livesay & Myers, P.C. senior associate Matthew Smith explained the decision rendered in the divorce action between Continental Resources CEO Harold Hamm and his now-ex-wife, Sue Ann Arnall. This case was, and is, noteworthy because the decision awarded Ms. Hamm almost one billion dollars ($955,481,842, to be precise) for her share of the marital estate. If the trial court’s decision stands, this will be one of the largest divorce settlements of all time. The highest recorded settlement to date was for the divorce of Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev ($4.5 billion dollars).

However, at present both parties to this proceeding have filed appeals to the Oklahoma State Supreme Court. Oklahoma, like Virginia, is an equitable distribution jurisdiction, where the court determines the extent of the marital property, excludes certain assets as the separate … Read More »


Marriage Equality for Same-Sex Couples in Virginia

Posted on January 21st, 2015, by Stephanie Sauer in Custody, Family Law. No Comments

As everyone knows at this point, same-sex marriage is now legal in the Commonwealth of Virginia. On October 7, 2014 Governor Terry McAuliffe signed Executive Order #30 titled “Marriage Equality in the Commonwealth of Virginia.” The order directed all state agencies, authorities, commissions and other entities within Virginia to quickly make any necessary policy changes to afford same-sex couples the same benefits as heterosexual couples.

Now that Virginia allows and recognizes same-sex marriages, same-sex couples will no longer need to travel outside the Commonwealth to resolve their family law issues. Below is a summary of the impact of marriage equality on four areas of family law in Virginia:

1. Divorce. Any couple with a valid marriage from Virginia, a foreign state or country may now file for divorce in​ ​Virginia, provided the parties were married in Virginia, last resided as a couple in Virginia, or one spouse​ ​has resided … Read More »


Oil CEO Ordered to Pay $1 Billion in Divorce Ruling

Posted on November 13th, 2014, by Matthew Smith in Divorce, Family Law. No Comments

One of the largest divorce judgments in United States history was rendered this week, when Continental Resources Chief Executive Officer Harold Hamm was ordered to pay nearly $1 billion to his ex-wife.

After a nine-week divorce trial that ended last month, Oklahoma Judge Howard Haralson ruled, in an 80-page decision, that Sue Ann Hamm should receive a total of $995.5 million, among other significant assets.

And it would seem that Mr. Hamm got off lightly. The marital estate was estimated to be worth at least $18 billion, largely tied up in Continental shares, and Ms. Hamm sought a much larger sum than what she was awarded.

Mr. Hamm controls 68% of the oil company’s stock, and the ruling does not require him to part with those shares. Still, Ms. Hamm will shortly become one of the 100 wealthiest women in the U.S.

Judge Haralson … Read More »


Boilerplate Provisions in Virginia Separation Agreements

Posted on October 28th, 2014, by Ariel Baniowski in Divorce, Family Law. No Comments

When negotiating a marital settlement agreement or separation agreement, you will inevitably hear your counsel talk about certain standard “boilerplate” provisions. You will probably just glance over these provisions, and your attorney will likely only touch on them briefly while focusing on the meat of the agreement—custody and visitation, support, property, debts, retirement, etc. Unfortunately, such a crude review of these provisions could prove costly.

Take for example the case of Hale v. Hale (2003), wherein Wife was awarded a portion of both Husband’s employer-provided pension plan and his employer-contributed 401(k). Wife had sought an equitable distribution of both assets, while Husband had maintained that only the pension plan was to be divided per the parties’ separation agreement. The agreement referred in its retirement provisions to the “pension plan” in the singular. However, the heading of the retirement provisions and the parties’ boilerplate preamble language … Read More »


Child Support: What to Do When a Child Emancipates

Posted on October 23rd, 2014, by Julia Jones in Family Law. No Comments

It’s a common story. Pursuant to your Virginia divorce decree, you are ordered to pay your ex-spouse $1,200/month in child support for your three children. A few years later, your oldest child graduates from high school and goes off to college. So what do you do? You figure $1,200/month divided by three kids = $400 per kid, so you’ll reduce your monthly payments to your your ex-spouse to just $800 for the two remaining eligible kids. Right?

Wrong. And in fact, you can get yourself in a lot of trouble this way. You cannot unilaterally change your child support amount without the court’s involvement. Your spouse can later take you to court and you will almost certainly be held accountable for that extra $400/month that you stopped paying.

How could that be, if one of your children is no longer eligible for child … Read More »


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