At what age is it legal to leave a child home alone in Virginia?
It may come as a surprise that there is not a Virginia law that answers this exact question. There is no specific age at which you can legally leave your child at home alone unattended. However, there is guidance set forth from the Virginia Department of Social Services that parents should consider when making this determination:
Your child’s maturity level. You know your child better than anyone else does. Is your child physically and mentally capable of taking care of themselves? Think of it this way: when you give your child a specific instruction, are they able to follow it without any additional assistance?
How easily can your child reach you? It is not simply enough that an adult neighbor is available next door: you, as the parent and legal guardian, must be … Read More »
As most parents know, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows parents of dependent children to claim a percentage of their income as exempt from taxes. Separated or divorce parents will usually both want this exemption for themselves, as it can be quite valuable (the exemption was $3,950 per child in 2014). As a child can only be claimed on one tax return per year, a common question in child support cases is who will get the tax dependency exemption each year for each minor child.
According to IRS regulations, the custodial parent is the party entitled to claim the tax exemption for each child. A custodial parent for these purposes is the parent with whom the child resides more than half the time. If the parents have 50/50 custody of a child, resulting in neither party being the “custodial parent,” then the parent … Read More »
A central part of every divorce involving children is the determination of child custody and visitation rights. In Virginia, a variety of possible physical custody arrangements exist. For example, one parent may have primary physical custody while the other parent has visitation rights, or custody may alternate between parents on a weekly or monthly basis. Regardless of where the child stays on any given night, there are many ways in which he or she can spend time with both parents. “Virtual visitation” is a way for parent and child to maintain a close relationship with possible daily interaction, although they are not physically in the same place. It may be particularly helpful in situations where the parent and child have reduced face-to-face visits because they no longer live in the same geographical area.
Virtual visitation is the use of technology as a means … Read More »
In Virginia divorce actions, one of the first questions parties often ask is “who is going to get to keep what?”
Virginia is an equitable distribution state, meaning that the court has the authority in any divorce to classify the property of the parties as separate, marital or hybrid. This classification is vitally important, because the court only has the power to divide marital and hybrid property—not any separate property.
The article Equitable Distribution: Using Separate Property For A Marital Loan explains the Virginia Court of Appeals decision rendered in Layman v. Layman and the impact on property classification when a party uses separate property throughout a marriage.
The Court of Appeals in David v. David, Va. App., Record No. 0653-12-2 (2015) recently highlighted another potential pitfall on the road to proving separate property is actually separate. The David case illustrates important issues when stock and investment accounts … Read More »
You’ve succeeded in getting the court to enter a child support order for your child. It has been a few months and the obligated parent is no longer paying or is not paying the full amount. The child support arrears are growing with every passing month. The Virginia Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE) may be able to get the money flowing again. Below are some tools at their disposal, which you may put to work on behalf of you and your child.
Child Support Enforcement Tools
The primary way to enforce a child support order is through wage withholdings. But if non-custodial parents don’t receive a regular paycheck, are self-employed or work for commissions, the DCSE has other enforcement tools at their disposal. Those tools include placing liens on real or personal property, seizing income or financial assets, intercepting state and federal … Read More »
Appeals Filed By Both Sides
Previously on this Blog, Livesay & Myers, P.C. senior associate Matthew Smith explained the decision rendered in the divorce action between Continental Resources CEO Harold Hamm and his now-ex-wife, Sue Ann Arnall. This case was, and is, noteworthy because the decision awarded Ms. Hamm almost one billion dollars ($955,481,842, to be precise) for her share of the marital estate. If the trial court’s decision stands, this will be one of the largest divorce settlements of all time. The highest recorded settlement to date was for the divorce of Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev ($4.5 billion dollars).
However, at present both parties to this proceeding have filed appeals to the Oklahoma State Supreme Court. Oklahoma, like Virginia, is an equitable distribution jurisdiction, where the court determines the extent of the … Read More »
As everyone knows at this point, same-sex marriage is now legal in the Commonwealth of Virginia. On October 7, 2014 Governor Terry McAuliffe signed Executive Order #30 titled “Marriage Equality in the Commonwealth of Virginia.” The order directed all state agencies, authorities, commissions and other entities within Virginia to quickly make any necessary policy changes to afford same-sex couples the same benefits as heterosexual couples.
Now that Virginia allows and recognizes same-sex marriages, same-sex couples will no longer need to travel outside the Commonwealth to resolve their family law issues. Below is a summary of the impact of marriage equality on four areas of family law in Virginia:
1. Divorce. Any couple with a valid marriage from Virginia, a foreign state or country may now file for divorce in Virginia, provided the parties were married in Virginia, last resided as a couple in Virginia, or one spouse has resided … Read More »
It’s a common story. Pursuant to your Virginia divorce decree, you are ordered to pay your ex-spouse $1,200/month in child support for your three children. A few years later, your oldest child graduates from high school and goes off to college. So what do you do? You figure $1,200/month divided by three kids = $400 per kid, so you’ll reduce your monthly payments to your your ex-spouse to just $800 for the two remaining eligible kids. Right?
Wrong. And in fact, you can get yourself in a lot of trouble this way. You cannot unilaterally change your child support amount without the court’s involvement. Your spouse can later take you to court and you will almost certainly be held accountable for that extra $400/month that you stopped paying.
How could that be, if one of your children is no longer eligible for child … Read More »
The first step for most people in obtaining legal counsel for a custody, divorce or other family law matter is to have an initial consultation with an attorney. Most consultations are scheduled for one-half to one full hour and most family 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 case, 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.
Here are ten tips to help you make the most of your family law initial consultation:
Seek advice as … Read More »
Any person taken to court has certain rights that must be respected. The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution require that neither the federal government nor individual states deprive anyone of life, liberty or property without “due process of law.” At its most fundamental level, due process requires the defendant be served with notice that a case has been filed against them, and given the opportunity to appear before the court to defend themselves.
The increasing mobility of individuals in our society has added complexity to the issues of due process. Pioneers took six months to travel across the country on the Oregon Trail in the mid-1800s, risking disease and death along the way. Today, someone can load up their belongings in a U-Haul truck and relocate across the entire country in about a week. This extreme freedom and ease … Read More »