Category:Family Law


Marriage, Age and Divorce

Posted on August 3rd, 2015, by Jonathan McHugh in Divorce, Family Law. No Comments

While there have been several studies lately which point to a decrease in the overall number of people getting married, there is a very obvious, but perhaps less publicized fact that comes along with fewer marriages: fewer divorces. These facts do not change the reality that most, if not all people, at some point in their lives, wonder when the “best” time to get married is. For some the answer is never; however, for many people the answer depends on several factors: age, maturity, financial considerations, career aspirations, etc.

An even more intriguing question is presented by a recent analysis performed by sociologist Nicholas Wolfinger: “When is the best age to get married if you don’t want to get divorced?”

Wolfinger’s analysis, aided by data provided by the National Survey of Family Growth, points out some seemingly intuitive and logical points. For example: … Read More »


Restoration of Parental Rights in Virginia

Posted on July 28th, 2015, by Laila Raheen in Custody, Family Law. No Comments

Can You File for Custody If Your Parental Rights Were Terminated in Virginia?

If your parental rights to a child have been terminated, under Virginia law you do not have standing to file a petition for custody of that child. Under Virginia Code Section 20-124.1, a petitioner seeking custody of a child must be a “person with a legitimate interest.” The statute specifically provides that a person with a legitimate interest does not include a party whose parental rights have been terminated by a court order, either voluntarily or involuntarily. However, in 2013, the General Assembly enacted Virginia Code Section 16.1-283.2 to provide a procedure for restoration of parental rights. Once a parent’s parental rights are restored pursuant to that code section, he or she can file a petition for custody.

Who Can Petition for Restoration of Parental Rights?

The statute distinguishes as … Read More »


New Rule for Health Insurance Costs in Virginia Child Support

Posted on July 22nd, 2015, by Benjamin Carafiol in Family Law. No Comments

Each year, the Virginia legislature considers numerous proposed updates to Virginia family law. These updates range from universally significant changes such as last year’s revised child support guidelines (updated for the first time in nearly thirty years), to the loosened notice requirements for finalizing uncontested divorces, to addressing the perhaps mundane question of whether or not courts should consolidate juvenile cases under single case numbers.

That trend has continued into 2015, with the legislature passing—and Governor McAuliffe signing into law— updated provisions concerning the amount of health insurance cost to be included in calculating child support in Virginia.

Virginia’s child support guidelines provide courts a method for determining child support based on each parent’s income, the support by either parent of “other children” (such as by prior marriages), day care expenses and health care costs. Under the new law, effective July 1, 2015, for purposes of child support the health … Read More »


Experts to Have on Speed-Dial for Your Contested Divorce

Posted on July 20th, 2015, by Matthew Smith in Custody, Divorce, Family Law. No Comments

If you find yourself in the middle of a contested divorce and the stakes are high, you may need more assistance than your attorney can provide. With an eye toward preparing your case for trial or simply aiding in the settlement process, several categories of experts can be utilized to bolster your position and create compelling evidence in your favor.

These experts are typically experienced as trial witnesses, and the best ones come armed with CVs that add weight to their testimony and shield them from withering cross-examination. Experts can also prepare reports for use as evidence in court or as tools to bring the parties closer to settlement.

You should consider whether hiring any of the following six types of experts would be a worthwhile investment of time and money in your ongoing divorce:

Business Evaluator: This expert can be critical in cases … Read More »


Child Support and Disability Benefits in Virginia

Posted on July 10th, 2015, by Carolyn Eaton in Family Law. No Comments

What happens to a Virginia child support obligation if the parent who was ordered to pay support starts receiving disability payments instead of a pay check? Can those disability benefits be seized through an income withholding order to pay child support?

Supplemental Security Income Benefits (SSI). SSI is a Social Security benefit that is based on financial need and does not derive from the recipient’s earnings record. Monthly payments are made to individuals who are 65 years or older, blind or disabled, earn little to no income and have few, if any, resources. A non-custodial parent who receives this type of disability benefit cannot have those monthly payments taken through income withholding. Likewise, any lump sum payment the non-custodial parent receives for past due benefits cannot be taken to satisfy child support arrears.

Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (SSDI). SSDI is a … Read More »


The Emancipation of Minors in Virginia

Posted on July 6th, 2015, by Pia Miller in Family Law. No Comments

As we celebrate graduation season and waves of 18-year-olds going off to college or joining the military, we also think about the freedom that comes along with officially being an adult. For parents, you have maintained custody and control over your child their entire lives, and they are now free to make their own decisions.

However, there are certain instances where a teenager may seek to emancipate themselves from parental control prior to age 18. This is called the emancipation of minors, and is governed in Virginia by Virginia Code Section 16.1-331, et seq.

After a hearing, a Virginia court may declare a minor over the age of 16 as emancipated if the court finds the following:

That the minor has entered into a valid marriage;
That the minor is on active duty with any branch of the U.S. Armed Forces;
That the minor willingly … Read More »


Child Support Retroactivity in Virginia

Posted on June 25th, 2015, by Danielle Snead in Family Law. No Comments

Most parents facing a separation or divorce understand the importance of determining a child support amount. In Virginia, child support is determined by the application of child support guidelines which consist of a formula that factors in (a) the gross incomes of both parents, (b) any support paid by either parent for children from another marriage or relationship, (c) day care expenses and (d) the cost of health insurance for the child.

The question of how much child support will be paid is clearly important—but what about the question of when it begins? And specifically, when the parties have gone a period of time without a child support order or written agreement in place, is support owed retroactively for that period?

Under Virginia Code §20-108.1, courts in Virginia are to determine child support “retroactively for the period measured from the date that the proceeding was … Read More »


Can Other Countries Be Home States Under the UCCJEA?

Posted on June 12th, 2015, by Caitlyn Stubbs in Custody, Family Law. No Comments

In custody cases where a child has lived in multiple states, under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) the initial custody determination will generally be made in the child’s “home state.” If the child has been absent from their home state, the court will look to see what state the child lived in during the prior six months or during the six months immediately preceding the filing for custody.

But what happens when the child has not lived in the United States in the past six months?

Take the hypothetical case of John & Suzy Doe for example. John and Suzy have an 8-year-old son named Joe. Joe was born in England, but moved to Virginia with his parents when he was two years old. After six years in Virginia, Suzy takes Joe and heads back to England. Nine months later, Suzy files for … Read More »


Exclusive, Continuing Jurisdiction Under the UCCJEA

Posted on June 1st, 2015, by David Marquardt in Custody, Family Law. No Comments

The Washington, DC metropolitan area, and particularly Northern Virginia, has a highly transient demographic. Between the dense concentration of federal government jobs and the myriad military installations in and around the city, individuals and families are constantly moving in and out of the area. It comes as no surprise, then, that we often see parents who have children subject to a child custody and visitation order issued by a state other than Virginia. Many times, these parents want to modify the custodial arrangement set forth in their out-of-state order.

In Virginia, child custody and visitation orders are modifiable where (a) there has been a material change of circumstances and (b) the best interest of the child warrants a different custody arrangement. Upon filing a motion to modify a custody order in Virginia, however, it must first be determined which state or … Read More »


The Basics of Paternity in Virginia

Posted on May 28th, 2015, by Ariel Baniowski in Custody, Family Law. No Comments

Paternity is a father’s assumption of legal rights and responsibilities to a child. An established legal father of a child has a duty and obligation to support that child, as well as the right to petition the court for custody or visitation of the child. Such rights and responsibilities do not apply and cannot be exercised unless and until paternity is established.

In addition to the emotional and quality of life benefits that building the father-child relationship can have for both parties, establishing paternity also entitles the child to other possible benefits, including the right to inherit, the right to share in social security, the right to collect disability and veteran’s benefits if applicable, and the right to receive insurance and medical health benefits. Establishment of paternity is also valuable to the child because knowing the mental and physical health history of … Read More »


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