The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is raising special challenges for those facing separation, divorce, custody or support cases in Virginia. Couples who were experiencing marital difficulties before the crisis may find those difficulties magnified as they now spend much more time together at home. There are various custody and visitation issues raised by COVID-19, as well as issues of modification of support as many people are laid off from their jobs.
The Supreme Court of Virginia has issued an order temporarily limiting the types of cases that will be heard in Virginia. The order instructs Virginia courts to give precedence to certain emergency matters including emergency child custody cases, quarantine or isolation matters, and protective order cases. For more information, see Filing a New Family Law Case During the Judicial Emergency in Virginia.
The situation with COVID-19 does not mean that … Read More »
It is very common these days for both parents to work outside of the home, whether on a part-time or full-time basis. For many parents, this requires a juggling of responsibilities and it also requires making sure that children are supervised and looked after appropriately. It is difficult enough for many parents to find the appropriate care for their children when two parents are living under the same roof; however, the situation becomes even more complicated when parties are separated or divorced.
While Virginia law does not provide a specific age at which you can leave your child at home alone, many Virginia counties set their own guidelines for supervision of minor children. These guidelines are typically drafted and developed by social workers and other community members. These county-specific guidelines are not laws; however, not following them can have legal implications.
Virginia courts … Read More »
So, you think, or you know, that your spouse is cheating on you. As devastating as this discovery can be, many people are just as devastated to find out that Virginia law can, and often does, protect the adulterer.
In Virginia, adultery is defined as the act of sexual intercourse by a married person with any person who is not their spouse. It is a ground for divorce under Virginia Code § 20-91. It is also illegal, a Class 4 misdemeanor according to Virginia Code § 18.2-365. While adultery as a crime is rarely, if ever, prosecuted, the fact that adultery is still technically illegal in Virginia has a significant impact on many divorce cases.
For a court to grant a divorce on the ground of adultery, Virginia law requires proof by “clear and convincing” evidence, a higher standard of proof than other grounds … Read More »
A question I frequently receive from family law clients or potential clients is: “the other party has violated our court order—so what can I do about it?”
When one party violates a previous order from a Virginia court, the other party has the opportunity to petition the court for enforcement of the order. In Virginia, this is called a Petition for a Rule to Show Cause. At the Show Cause hearing, the judge will give the person alleged to be in violation an opportunity to defend their actions, and present evidence as to why they may have violated the court order. If the court is not satisfied by that evidence or explanation, it may hold the violating party in contempt and may issue a punishment based on the type and severity of the violation.
Punishments may be civil or criminal, and will vary depending on … Read More »
Divorce and child custody proceedings are often contentious, time consuming and expensive. It is understandable that parties to litigated divorce or child support cases would never want to see a courtroom again, or even think about having to reopen old wounds. The reality is, however, that parties who want to adjust child support need to follow certain steps and procedures, because the consequences for not doing so can be severe.
Pursuant to Virginia Code § 20-108, Virginia courts have the authority to revise and alter prior orders concerning the custody, care and maintenance of a child or children and make new orders, “as the circumstances of the parents and benefit of the children may require.” The amount of child support ordered by a judge may be increased or decreased at any time based on a “material change of circumstances.”
Parties seeking a modification of … Read More »
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 »
“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 »
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 »
Divorce cases come with any number of possible frustrations, for the parties and the attorneys alike. One of the biggest frustrations for clients (and attorneys) is the length of time it takes to move their case towards a final resolution, through a comprehensive settlement or final hearing. Whether you are just now considering a divorce, or are already in the middle of a stalled divorce proceeding, here are four tips for moving your divorce along:
Know Your Attorney: The initial consultation with your attorney, as well as follow up conversations and meetings, should give you an idea of your attorney’s personality and overall strategy for your case. Some attorneys are settlement-oriented, while some will think it’s best to litigate every issue that comes up. You should make sure that you have a clear understanding of the strategy your attorney has for your … Read More »
Imagine a married couple separates and one party moves out of the Commonwealth of Virginia, with no intention to return. The spouse who remains in Virginia wants to pursue a divorce. A circuit court in Virginia can divorce the parties, as long as there are grounds for divorce and the proper procedures are followed. But what if the Virginia resident wants to request spousal support?
For the Virginia court to order spousal support in that situation, it must first find that it has personal or “in personam” jurisdiction over the non-resident. There are several ways that a court can have personal jurisdiction, per Virginia Code §8.01-328.1. There are two, however, that are of particular importance to parties going through a divorce.
First we have Virginia Code §8.01-328.1(A)(8), which provides that a court may exercise personal jurisdiction over a person who:
…executed an agreement … Read More »