About Ariel Baniowski

Ariel Baniowski is a family law attorney in the Leesburg office of Livesay & Myers. She is an aggressive advocate for those undergoing separation, divorce, or custody proceedings in Northern Virginia. Ms. Baniowski combines a tireless work ethic with years of experience in family law and a passion for helping people through difficult circumstances.

Here are the most recent posts by this author:


Incarcerated Parents and Child Support in Virginia

Posted on June 17th, 2014, by Ariel Baniowski in Family Law. Comments Off on Incarcerated Parents and Child Support in Virginia

What happens to a non-custodial parent’s child support obligation in Virginia if they are incarcerated and child support has already been ordered? Does their obligation to pay support automatically freeze, modify, or terminate? Should the incarcerated parent petition the court for a modification in their obligation? Is the parent in jail entitled to a modification after and because of their incarceration?

The answers to these questions may surprise

Will the Incarcerated Parent’s Child Support Obligation Be Modified?

In Virginia, the answer to this question is: probably not. A Virginia court is unlikely to modify an already existing child support order in lieu of a non-custodial parent’s recent incarceration.

In order to modify an existing child support order in Virginia, the petitioning party must demonstrate that a material change in circumstances has occurred, since entry of the last order, that warrants a modification. Naturally, incarceration is a … Read More »


Grandparent Rights in Virginia

Posted on April 14th, 2014, by Ariel Baniowski in Custody, Family Law. Comments Off on Grandparent Rights in Virginia

Grandparents may seek custody or visitation of their grandchildren for any number of reasons. Perhaps one or both parents have become incapacitated, incarcerated, or otherwise unfit to have custody. Or perhaps a grandparent feels that a parent is preventing them from maintaining a health relationship with a grandchild. What recourse does a grandparent have in one of these situations? What are a grandparent’s rights to custody and visitation in Virginia?

Grandparent Custody Rights in Virginia

In Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57, 65 (2000), the U.S. Supreme Court established that parents have an inherent constitutional right in rearing their children. The Court stated that the “interests of parents in the care, custody and control of their children… is perhaps the oldest of the fundamental liberty interests recognized” by the Court. However, this right belongs only to parents—it does not belong to grandparents. … Read More »


Virginia Same-Sex Marriage Ban Ruled Unconstitutional

Posted on February 15th, 2014, by Ariel Baniowski in Family Law. Comments Off on Virginia Same-Sex Marriage Ban Ruled Unconstitutional

As you may have already heard, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia has ruled that Virginia’s voter-approved 2006 Marshall-Newman Amendment (aka the Virginia Marriage Amendment) is unconstitutional. The Amendment modified the Constitution of Virginia to (a) prevent the legal recognition of any union or partnership between same-sex couples, and (b) define “marriage” as exclusively between one man and one woman. In Bostic v. Rainey, decided on February 13, 2014, U.S. District Court Judge Arenda Wright Allen found the Virginia ban on same-sex marriage to violate the Due Process and Equal Protection provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The judge wrote in her opinion that “[g]overnment interests in perpetuating traditions, shielding state matters from federal interference, and favoring one model of parenting over others must yield to this country’s cherished protections that ensure the exercise of the private … Read More »


The Hague Convention and International Child Abduction

Posted on December 30th, 2013, by Ariel Baniowski in Custody, Family Law. Comments Off on The Hague Convention and International Child Abduction

When a child is removed from the United States by a parent, or retained in a country not the United States beyond an agreed-to period of time, and in violation of a parent’s custodial rights, the left-behind parent is left feeling hopeless. Why? Because each country is a sovereign nation with its own judicial system, laws, and law enforcement, and a custody order from a United States court may not be recognized by a court abroad. In this age of increased international tourism and travel, as well as the growth of ethnically diverse, multi-national families, the widespread adoption of a piece of uniform legislation that facilitates the return of abducted children is paramount. Thus, we have the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (“Hague Convention”).

What is the Hague Convention?

The Hague Convention, concluded in October 1980 and … Read More »


Hearsay In Family Law

Posted on September 23rd, 2013, by Ariel Baniowski in Custody, Divorce, Family Law. Comments Off on Hearsay In Family Law

When preparing a client or witnesses for a hearing or a trial, I always find myself repeating one thing over and over – the hearsay rule! What is hearsay? Why is hearsay evidence inadmissible? Are there exceptions?

Without writing a dissertation, I will try to sum a few things up about the hearsay rule as it relates to custody, divorce and other family law cases in Virginia.

What is Hearsay?

The Supreme Court defines hearsay as “testimony given by a witness who relates, not what he knows personally, but what others have told him, or what he has heard said by others.” Cross v. Commonwealth, 195 Va. 62, 74, 77 S.E.2d 447, 453 (1953). Note that hearsay is not limited to oral statements. Hearsay includes conduct, gestures, writings, and even silence in some cases. Further note that in order for a statement to … Read More »


Beware Of Social Media

Posted on August 5th, 2013, by Ariel Baniowski in Divorce, Family Law. Comments Off on Beware Of Social Media

I’m going to start this blog post by stating my conclusion first: Beware of Social Media!

Divorce, custody, and/or any other matters involving the breakdown of the family unit can be difficult, and you may feel the need to vent your frustrations, vent your disdain for your ex, or possibly even vent your own guilty conscience. And, with the advent of social media, you no longer need a physical person present in order to expel your frustrations; you need simply to press “send.”

Social media, including Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and Instagram, can be both a blessing and a curse for a person going through the trauma of separation, divorce, a custody dispute, or a support matter. It is a blessing because family and friends can be “near” even when they are far in distance. However, it can be a curse because it … Read More »


What Do The Supreme Court’s Recent Rulings Mean For Same-Sex Marriage In Virginia?

Posted on July 1st, 2013, by Ariel Baniowski in Family Law. Comments Off on What Do The Supreme Court’s Recent Rulings Mean For Same-Sex Marriage In Virginia?

In an earlier blog-post, I apprised you of the who, what, and why of the two same-sex marriage cases before the Supreme Court—U.S. v. Windsor and Hollingsworth v. Perry. As you probably heard last week, the Court released its opinions in both cases on Wednesday, June 26th. So, what do, or don’t, these decisions mean for Virginia law?

Re-Cap of the Issues in the Two Same-Sex Marriage Cases

In U.S. v. Windsor, the Court was asked to address the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”), and whether or not it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fifth Amendment. In regards to same-sex couples, DOMA does the following: (1) restricts federal marriage benefits to solely opposite-sex couples, (2) defines “marriage” as a union between one man and one woman and defines “spouse” as a person of the opposite sex who is … Read More »


Virginia Child Custody Evaluations: What You Need To Know

Posted on May 19th, 2013, by Ariel Baniowski in Custody, Family Law. Comments Off on Virginia Child Custody Evaluations: What You Need To Know

Agreeing on child custody and the visitation schedule for the children can be difficult for two parents who are no longer together, especially if the parents have different parenting styles and/or different notions of what is best for the children. When parents are unable to reach a custody agreement, it is the occasional practice of the courts to order a child custody evaluation. Absent a court order, parents may also elect this option.

What is a Child Custody Evaluation?

A child custody evaluation is, essentially, an investigation of the children’s home, home environment, family relationships, and other matters of the children’s lives. The goal of the investigation is to determine the best custody and visitation outcome for the children, and the results of the investigation are used to aid the court in making its custody and visitation decision.

What is the Process?

Once a … Read More »


Same-Sex Marriage In Virginia: How Two New Supreme Court Decisions Might Affect Virginia Law

Posted on May 14th, 2013, by Ariel Baniowski in Family Law. Comments Off on Same-Sex Marriage In Virginia: How Two New Supreme Court Decisions Might Affect Virginia Law

You may have heard the term “DOMA” at some point in passing; you may have also heard “Prop 8” at some point in passing; you may be aware that there are two “gay marriage” cases before the Supreme Court; and you may be wondering how those much-awaited court decisions could affect Virginia’s same-sex marriage topography. So, what really is DOMA, what is Proposition 8, what are the Supreme Court cases about, and how will those court decisions impact Virginia?

The Two Same-Sex Marriage Cases Now Before the Supreme Court

U.S. v. Windsor. The first case before the Supreme Court with potentially large ramifications for same-sex marriage in Virginia is U.S. v. Windsor. The question for the Supreme Court in Windsor is the constitutionality of the federal “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA).

Enacted on September 21, 1996, DOMA is a federal law that restricts … Read More »


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