In many divorce cases, the most valuable asset to be divided is a pension. Pensions, or “defined benefit plans,” pay retirees a specified recurring benefit upon retirement that the retiree receives for life. Examples of defined benefit plans are the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), Virginia Retirement System (VRS), and military retirement benefits. Two main characteristics of pensions make them so valuable: first, the payments received can add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars throughout the life of the retiree; and second, the pension pays its benefits in regular (usually monthly) intervals, creating a guaranteed stream of income for the recipient.
Another feature of defined benefit plans is that they only provide the benefit to the retiree—when the retiree passes away, all benefits cease. This is generally of no concern to a retiree in a divorce proceeding. But a former spouse could … Read More »
As divorce attorneys, we often hear the word “narcissist,” typically used by our clients to describe their spouses. Usually the condemned partner is someone who is overly conceited or excessively self-centered, and not necessarily a narcissist. Although being particularly self-absorbed can come off as supercilious and arrogant, narcissism is much more than that. Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a real psychological disorder exemplified by a need for admiration and lack of empathy for others. Generally, narcissists genuinely believe the world revolves around them.
It is no secret that going through a divorce is extraordinarily difficult. However, divorcing a narcissist increases the conflict and turmoil tenfold. While there is nothing one can do to fully eliminate the effect of a narcissist on the divorce process, there are certain actions that can help minimize the emotional toll on the non-narcissistic spouse.
Become educated. There are … Read More »
When making an award of custody or visitation, Virginia courts look at the factors listed in Virginia Code Section 20-124.3 to determine the best interests of the child. One of these factors is whether there has been a history of violence or abusive behavior. This could be a history that has previously been documented by police reports, protective orders, or criminal convictions, but it could also present itself in the form of allegations made against one parent by the other parent during litigation of the custody case.
Allegations of abuse or neglect of a child made against a parent during custody litigation are sometimes referred to as the nuclear bomb of family law. Such allegations can drastically raise emotions and tensions in an already very difficult situation, and can swing the balance in a custody case from one parent to the … Read More »
Due to modern medicine and a societal focus on healthier lifestyles, people are living longer than ever before. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics, the average life expectancy in the United States for men is now 76.4 years, and 81.2 years for women. It makes sense then that Americans over the age of fifty are headed toward divorce at an unprecedented rate. Sociologists at Bowling Green State University found that one-quarter of all divorces in America involve spouses over the age of fifty—the “gray divorce”—a rate which has doubled since 1990. One in ten divorces now are between spouses over the age of sixty-five.
In addition to the fact that people are simply living longer, we can speculate on other reasons why individuals over the age of fifty are seeking divorces at such … Read More »
When most people hear the phrase “teen pregnancy,” they think only of the teenage mothers. But, there are also teenage fathers. Under the law in Virginia, a teenage boy can be determined by the court to be the father of a child, and can be ordered to pay child support for that baby. In proceedings to establish paternity, establish a child support obligation or enforce a child support obligation, teenage boys cannot escape the court’s ruling because of their age.
Pursuant to Virginia Code Section 20-49.6, a teenage boy between 14 and 18 years of age can be determined by the court to be the father of a child and ordered by the court to pay child support for that child as if he were an adult, if (1) the teenage boy is represented by a guardian ad litem, and (2) the teenage boy has … 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 »
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 »
A child support order has been established obligating one parent, called the obligor, to pay child support for the benefit of the child. Time has passed and the obligor has not paid the child support, has not paid it consistently or has only paid a portion of the ordered amount. What next?
Unpaid child support, called an “arrearage” or “back child support,” becomes a judgement by operation of law, and cannot be set aside, changed or discharged in bankruptcy. If the obligor is not paying the ordered amount of child support, a Motion to Show Cause can be filed that requires the obligor to appear in court for a hearing to explain to the judge why he or she should not be held in contempt of court for failing to pay as ordered. Contempt of court for failure to pay can … Read More »
Efforts to Restrict Marriage of Minors Advance Through Virginia Legislature
Many spouses going through separation and divorce lament that the laws of Virginia make it much easier to get married than they do to get divorced. A divorce proceeding requires a reason to want to end the marriage and in most cases the spouses must be separated for more than a year before their divorce can be finalized. This leads to the not-uncommon situation where spouses must live separately for longer than they were married before getting their divorce!
In contrast, to get married in Virginia, two eligible parties must only obtain a marriage license and perform a ceremony. There are no required blood tests or number or witnesses to validate a marriage. The age requirement for marriage in Virginia is sixteen for both parties. However, if either party is under eighteen, … 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 »