The Fairfax County Circuit Court recently issued an opinion that sheds light on an important aspect of Virginia divorce law: when divorcing parties include a provision for spousal support in a separation agreement that is incorporated into a divorce decree, that spousal support can only be modified later if the language of the agreement specifically allows for modification.
In Gordon v. Gordon, the parties divorced in 2003 after signing a separation agreement that provided for an award of spousal support (alimony). The Agreement made support non-modifiable, stating:
The husband agrees to pay to the wife, as and for her non-modifiable support and maintenance, the sum of One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00) per month, the initial payment to be made on the first day of the month following execution of this Agreement by both parties, and to continue in consecutive monthly installments on the first … Read More »
Being charged with a crime is, for almost anyone, a nerve-racking experience. If you are being investigated or have already been charged with a crime in Virginia, the first thing you will want do do is refuse to speak to the authorities without an attorney present. Then of course you will want to find an attorney as soon as possible. Finally, you should do a little research both as to the particulars of the criminal charges you are facing, and as to the overall criminal process in Virginia.
To help you on that last point, here is a guide through the five steps of the judicial process in Virginia, and what to expect from a good criminal defense attorney throughout each stage:
Step 1: Initial Investigation. The best criminal lawyers usually advise clients to remain silent when questioned by law … Read More »
If you have been accused of domestic violence, you should be aware that the issuance of a civil protective order order can, and very well may, affect your right to purchase, possess or transport a firearm in Virginia.
Federal Law Regarding Firearms and Domestic Violence
The best known restriction is found in federal law, which prohibits you from possessing, shipping, transporting, or receiving any firearm, if four conditions are met:
a protective order has been issued against you.
the protective order pertains to your “intimate partner” or the child of such “intimate partner.” The term “intimate partner” is defined to include a spouse, former spouse, person with whom you have a child or have cohabited, but not a girlfriend or boyfriend with whom you have not cohabited.
the protective order was issued after an evidentiary hearing, and you had notice and an opportunity to participate … Read More »
It is a common story. You get married. You and your new husband or wife buy a beautiful new home. Everything is grand.
But then everything, gradually, over time, becomes… less grand, downright miserable, in fact. You separate. You contemplate divorce. You visit an attorney.
The question arises: what happens to the money that you (or your spouse) used to make the down payment? What happens to that money when you divorce?
There is a general rule that applies to this scenario under Virginia law. Just as background, real estate, when purchased during the marriage, is, by default under Virginia law, marital property regardless of how the real estate is titled. That is, the real estate can be titled in both of your names or solely or in the name of one party. It makes no difference to the question of whether or … Read More »
On June 3rd, 2013, the Supreme Court of the United States reviewed a provision of Virginia law and declared it invalid as applied, in the case of Hillman v. Maretta.
The case had to do with the distribution of life insurance proceeds for federal government employees enrolled in the Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) Program.
The facts were undisputed. A federal government employee by the name of Warren Hillman filed a Designation of Beneficiary with FEGLI listing his wife as the beneficiary. Mr. Hillman and his wife later divorced, and Mr. Hillman remarried, but his new wife was never designated as a FEGLI beneficiary. When Mr. Hillman died, Judy Maretta, the ex-wife, collected the FEGLI proceeds and was promptly sued in state court by Mr. Hillman’s widow Ms. Jacqueline Hillman.
At issue in the state court action and its appeals was the … Read More »
Going to court for the first time can be an intimidating experience. Whether you are facing criminal charges or find yourself in court in a divorce or custody case, remaining calm in court can really help you make your most effective case. We put together the infographic below to help you understand all the different parts of the courtroom, so you can feel at ease on your day in court. This infographic explains who people are, what they do, and where they sit. We’ve also included some interesting facts about courtrooms, and funny quotes from actual court cases.
Our experienced attorneys in Fairfax, Fredericksburg, and Manassas, Virginia feel right at home in the courtroom—hopefully this information will allow you to also be at ease in front of the judge or jury.
Click the image to see a bigger version
If you enjoyed this infographic, or found it useful, feel free to use it on … Read More »
Virginia is an equitable distribution state, meaning that the court has the authority in your divorce suit to classify the property of the parties as separate, marital or hybrid, to distribute any jointly owned marital property between the parties, and to grant a monetary award to either party to ensure that the division of marital property is fair and equitable.
The law of equitable distribution is complex, and not every detail will be addressed in this blog post. The purpose of this post is instead to set forth a few simple principles to help you determine what property will be off-limits to your spouse in your divorce case. In other words, what do you get to keep? What is your sole, separate property not subject to equitable distribution?
Generally speaking, the following kinds of property will be classified as separate in Virginia:
Property … Read More »
The first step for most people in obtaining legal counsel for a divorce is to have an initial consultation with an attorney. Most consultations are scheduled for one-half to one full hour and most divorce lawyers in Northern Virginia do charge a consultation fee. The consultation is your opportunity to describe your situation to an attorney and receive an overview of the legal issues in your divorce, and perhaps a proposed course of action. It is also your opportunity to interview the lawyer in order to decide if they are the person to best represent you and your legal interests. Likewise, the consultation allows the attorney to determine if the case is one in which they can offer assistance.
To make the most of your divorce consultation, remember the following:
Seek assistance early. In many instances, there are deadlines for response … Read More »
Suppose you live in Woodbridge or Manassas, and are a stay at home parent, a military spouse, or perhaps you work but just happen to make much less money than your spouse. Suddenly, your spouse declares that he or she wants a divorce. Your spouse wants to walk away from the marriage, the house, and the marital debts, to live on their own. But you cannot afford to pay the mortgage, your bills, or your debts all on your own. Once your spouse leaves, the creditors are at the door. The house is facing foreclosure. What do you do?
The short answer is: seek pendente lite (temporary) support from your spouse from the courts of Prince William County.
Please note: Prince William County, Manassas and Manassas Park all share a combined court system, so whether you are a resident of Woodbridge, Lake … Read More »
The Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) recognizes the ability of state courts to distribute a portion of a servicemember’s military retirement to a former spouse. Notably, USFSPA specifies that the maximum amount that can be paid to a former spouse is fifty percent of a servicemember’s “disposable retired pay,” which does not include retired pay that he or she waives in order to receive VA disability pay. In Mansell v. Mansell, 490 U.S. 581 (1989), the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed this rule and held that state courts may not divide upon divorce the military retired pay that a servicemember waives in order to receive disability pay.
The exclusion of retired pay waived for disability pay from division by state courts created perceptions of inequity in divorce cases, particularly where a servicemember had a high VA disability rating and could waive … Read More »