On many occasions in my practice, clients will complain that their spouse has been violating an agreement or court order. “She hasn’t been dropping the kids off on time,” or “he’s always late with his support check,” or the title to a vehicle was never signed over as required.
In a perfect world, everyone would follow what has already been agreed to, adhering to each and every detail laid out in a document adorned with each party’s signature. Unfortunately, divorce lawyers and their clients don’t operate in that utopian domain.
The truth is that reaching an agreement or having a judge enter a court order is only the first step in your family law matter. The second is making sure that it’s properly enforced, sending a clear message to the other party that violations are unacceptable and will be met with overwhelming … Read More »
“Am I going to have to pay spousal support?”
“I’ve been out of the workforce for fifteen years. Will I get any support?”
“It was my military service! Why should my spouse get a portion of my retirement?”
“I paid the mortgage every month. Why aren’t I getting a bigger percentage of proceeds from sale?”
“My spouse has never even attended a parent-teacher conference.”
Family law attorneys hear the above questions all the time. And, all the time, we have to tell our clients, whether good or bad, what their realistic expectations for their case should be. It would be irresponsible if we didn’t accurately represent possible realities to our clients. Sometimes when I review expectations with my clients, I like to ask that they assess their marriage as a business partnership. What were the terms of the partnership, what was its goal, what ethical and moral framework … Read More »
“I want my kids to get the best education possible.” I hear this statement, or some similar variation, from many clients. While this is a worthwhile goal, it becomes much more complicated when the parents are going through a divorce. Very often, the parties share very different opinions of what path would lead to a child receiving the “best” education possible.
After a divorce, parties typically share “legal” custody of their children. Legal custody does not have one definition, and in Virginia the court has the statutory authority to fashion a legal custody decision which it deems to be in the best interests of the child. The judge can order that the parties share equally in decision-making authority for educational matters related to the child, or can give final decision-making authority to one party or the other.
When parties decide to resolve … Read More »
Did you know that in surrogacy arrangements the birth mother of a child, not the donor mother, is legally the child’s mother in Virginia? Pursuant to Virginia Code Section 20-158, the parentage of a child conceived through assisted conception may not be what you thought.
Surrogacy cases usually involve the following parties:
Intended parents (who may also be known as the “donor parents”),
The husband of the surrogate mother (if married), and
Licensed physician and/or fertility clinic.
There are two types of surrogacy arrangements. In traditional surrogacy, a surrogate mother is inseminated with sperm from a male in the intended couple, or from a donor. In gestational surrogacy, the surrogate mother is implanted with an embryo, which can either come from the intended parents or from a donor. The significant difference between these two arrangements is that in gestational surrogacy the surrogate mother has no … Read More »
In Virginia, a drop in the payor spouse’s income, even if significant, may not guarantee a reduction in spousal support. As explained in Modification of Spousal Support in Virginia, under Virginia Code § 20-109 a court may decrease or terminate spousal support if there has been “a material change in circumstances” or “as the circumstances may make proper.” Although a court may find a material change in circumstances based on a complete loss of or a drop in the payor spouse’s income, the court may still refuse to reduce the amount of spousal support if it finds that the payor still has the ability to pay.
For instance, in Lamb v. Lamb, although the payor spouse’s income had decreased considerably, the Virginia Court of Appeals refused to reduce the amount of spousal support because the payor had the ability to pay. The Court found that … Read More »
In divorce cases, the marriage is officially and legally ended when the judge signs the order dissolving the legal bonds of matrimony. For a large number of people, however, a divorce does not mean the severing of all ties with their now ex-spouse. There are some things that will continue to bind many divorced couples together beyond their marriage vows. The immediate example that springs to mind is children. Issues of custody, visitation or child support can come up as often as the needs of a child may change. Eventually, however, children grow up—and though divorced parents will always be linked together through the children they share, there will no longer be the potential of ongoing litigation.
There is one issue, however, that can link former spouses together for the rest of their natural lives: spousal support.
In Virginia, spousal support may be … Read More »
The Virginia Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE) is currently offering a special incentive program for non-custodial parents who owe a child support debt to the Commonwealth of Virginia, which is usually due to the custodial parent on their case having received Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or Medicaid benefits.
Under the DCSE incentive program, any non-custodial parent who visits a DCSE district office in August–September 2015 and makes a lump sum payment will receive a 5% reduction in state debt, even if there is no current support owing.
According to DCSE, each parent who owes a qualifying debt received an automated call in August or September. However, if you have not received such a call, or if you simply wish to get more information and/or see if you qualify for this incentive program, DCSE encourages you to contact your caseworker.
This DCSE incentive program comes on the … Read More »
Establishment of Paternity of a Child Born to a Married Mother
A child born to a married woman in Virginia is presumed to be the child of her husband, so long as they were married for the ten months preceding the birth of the child. The husband is the “presumptive father” of the child, with the same responsibility for child support as a “legal father” (one who has been proven to be the father of a child).
However, the presumption of paternity in Virginia is rebuttable. In other words, the husband has the opportunity to prove that he is not the father despite the fact that he was married to the mother at the time of birth.
There are many ways to rebut the presumption of paternity. Perhaps the easiest and most certain way is to perform genetic paternity testing. In this age … Read More »
Going through a divorce results in a whirlwind of emotions—everything from extreme sadness and disappointment to elation and acceptance. Regardless of how the marriage ended, or whether the divorce is amicable or contested, people are often unprepared for the immense changes that come from a separation and divorce.
That being said, there are certain steps that you can take to better equip yourself for dealing with the transition from marriage to separation and, ultimately, to divorce. Consider doing each of the following six things at the outset, before seeking a divorce from your spouse in Virginia:
Go to a marriage counselor. This is especially true if you have children with your spouse. There is a reason why you got married in the first place, and you owe it to yourself, your spouse and your kids to see if there is an option other … Read More »
A question that is often posed by persons seeking to separate from their spouse and eventually divorce, is whether or not there is a status of legal separation under Virginia law. The short answer is no, unlike many other states, Virginia’s domestic relations laws do not have a status for legal separation in cases where neither party is at fault in ending the marriage. However, there are many steps you can take to protect yourself, your children, and your assets as you separate from your spouse and move towards divorce.
Legal separation is defined by Black’s Law Dictionary as “the term that applies to a court sanctioned agreement for a husband and wife that details their obligations while living apart.” Some states allow couples to petition the courts for a status of legal separation, regardless of what is causing the breakdown … Read More »