With the rising costs of college education, many families are establishing college savings accounts for their children. While this is certainly a good and well-thought out plan for the future, it is unlikely that parents ever consider this question: What happens to the college savings accounts upon a divorce?
College savings accounts, including Virginia 529 plans, are usually titled in names of one or both parents, who are technically the “owner” or “owners” of such accounts. The child is then listed as the beneficiary on the account. Depending on the type of account and the plan’s rules and regulations, a child will have a certain number of years to use money from the college savings account for their educational pursuits.
In a Virginia divorce which involves the division of assets and liabilities, Virginia Code Section 20-107.3 mandates that the court must classify … Read More »
Parties facing a divorce or other family law litigation in Virginia often ask the question: would it help their case to record telephone conversations with the opposing party? The answer to this question may surprise you.
The Virginia Code sets out a surprising barrier for the use of recorded telephone conversations. Virginia Code Section 8.01-420.2 sets a general bar to the admissibility of recorded phone calls in civil court proceedings, unless all parties are aware that the conversation is being recorded. Unlike voicemails and recorded physical interactions, a telephone conversation would provide the opportunity to record without all parties’ awareness that the recording was being made. In a voicemail, the party intends that the message will be recorded, and pulling out your phone and placing it on the table is a tipoff that you may be recording an in-person interaction.
For telephone conversations, however, Section 8.01-420.2 … Read More »
Many times when it becomes obvious that a marriage is heading towards failure, the question arises whether it would be best to seek an annulment or a divorce. To answer that question, one must first understand how annulment differs from divorce, and the different remedies a court may award upon a divorce vs. upon an annulment.
Many people confuse the legal annulment with a religious annulment. A legal annulment is a determination by the court that the marriage never existed. It can only be granted in a limited number of circumstances that are very rare.
A very small number of marriages may be annulled because they were void ab initio—meaning they were never valid marriages. Those marriages include bigamous and polygamous marriages, incestuous marriages, and underage marriages. See Virginia Code Section 20-38.1. These “void” marriages are deemed to have never legally existed, … Read More »
Due to hard economic times, more and more parties are considering filing for bankruptcy. Even if you have not contemplated filing yourself, if you are facing the dissolution of your marriage you may find that your spouse has filed. Here are three things to know if you find yourself facing a separation or divorce in Virginia where one spouse has filed for bankruptcy:
Joint Debts. One of the most frequently asked questions when one party files for bankruptcy, either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, is whether or not the non-filing spouse will be responsible for the discharged debts of the spouse who filed for bankruptcy. The answer is: it depends on how the debts are held. If a discharged debt is one that the filing spouse solely incurred and held solely in their own name, then the non-filing spouse will not be responsible for such debt. … Read More »
Determining how to handle a business asset is one of the most complicated issues in many divorce cases. Under Virginia divorce law, circuit courts are given the responsibility of fairly dividing the value of any marital property of the parties. Marital property includes any property acquired by either party during the marriage, regardless of how it is titled. Sometimes the parties own and work in a business together, in which case the value of the business is less important than how the business will evolve into the new situation where the owners are no longer married. More often than not, however, one spouse has an ownership interest in a business while the other does not, in which case the value of the ownership interest becomes increasingly important.
So How Do Virginia Courts Value a Business in Divorce?
The Supreme Court of Virginia … 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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »