The central question for most parents facing a child custody battle is: “what are my chances at winning custody?” In many cases, the answer to this question depends upon the answer to another question: who is the primary caregiver? Many households are still arranged with one parent being the primary breadwinnner for the family and the other parent being the primary caregiver for the children. In those situations, the latter parent has a decided advantage in winning primary custody. However, Virginia law requires courts to look at the whole picture in deciding custody cases, and not determine custody solely on the primary caregiver factor.
Does Virginia Favor the Primary Caregiver?
Virginia law requires judges to base custody determinations on the best interests of the child, as determined by ten factors stated in Virginia Code Section 20-124.3. Neither parent is automatically favored in these … Read More »
Each year several bills are introduced in the Virginia House of Delegates or the Virginia Senate, but only a few get passed and approved into law. One of the bills that was introduced and passed during this year’s session will expand protective orders in Virginia in an interesting way. The bill, House Bill No. 972, effectively grants judges in Virginia the authority to award pet possession as part of protective orders. This new law will go into effect on July 1, 2014.
Under current Virginia law, a person who has been a victim of violence, force, or threat that has resulted in bodily injury or places them in reasonable apprehension of the same, can seek a protective order. As explained in Protective Orders in Virginia, these orders can be sought via a court or a magistrate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year on an … Read More »
If you are engaged to be married, you may be considering entering into a prenuptial agreement or “prenup” with your spouse-to-be. Although popular recognition of prenuptial agreements has grown thanks to celebrity divorces, prenups are still relatively uncommon in everyday marriages. If you or your soon-to-be spouse are pursuing a prenuptial agreement for your upcoming marriage, here are six things to keep in mind as you move forward:
Remember the purpose. Perhaps this is opinion, but the purpose of a prenuptial agreement is more about simplifying and reducing the costs of a potential divorce, and less about defining the marriage relationship or dictating the behavior of either spouse. Keeping this in mind should help you determine which terms are necessary to include and which terms are not.
Protect what you have now. People often enter into prenuptial agreements to protect the separate assets … Read More »
The Virginia General Assembly recently passed a bill to update Virginia’s child support guidelines. The bill, HB 933, enjoyed significant support in the legislature—passing the House of Delegates on a vote of 85-10 and the Senate on a 38-0 vote. If the Governor now signs the bill, it will go into law effective July 1, 2014.
HB 933 proposes three significant changes to Virginia Code § 20-108.2:
Updated Child Support Guidelines. Virginia initially adopted the child support guidelines set forth in Virginia Code Section 20-108.2 in 1988, and while it has made minor changes to portions of this law it has not updated the actual guidelines in the past 26 years. The new law would not simply increase child support amounts across the board; rather, the specific details of an individual’s case could result in higher or lower child support amounts under the revised guidelines.
Removes Set … Read More »
As explained in Six Ways to Enforce A Child Support Order in Virginia, failure to pay a court-ordered child support obligation can have serious consequences in Virginia. Specifically, an obligor’s failure to pay can result in withholding of their wages, the suspension of professional, recreational or driver’s licenses, liens on their assets, interception of tax returns, restrictions on international travel, or even an order garnishing part of their retirement benefits.
After learning of their options for collecting past due child support, the next question many recipients of support have is: is there a statue of limitations on child support in Virginia?
The Virginia Supreme Court answered this question in 2011, when it ruled in Adcock v. Department of Social Services that child support obligations are set judgments which are subject to a 20-year statute of limitations. In Adcock, the father of a child was obligated, through a … Read More »
Military divorce cases often involve discussion of military retired pay, the Survivor Benefit Plan, and continuation of the spouse’s medical benefits after divorce. A growing topic of discussion in these cases is the servicemember’s education benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Increasingly, these benefits are becoming a topic of negotiation in separation agreements between divorcing couples.
The GI Bill can cover all in-state tuition and fees at public degree-granting schools. It also provides for a housing stipend and book allowance while in school. The benefits may be used up to 15 years after the servicemember’s discharge from active duty. Eligibility for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits requires a minimum of six years of service. Separate requirements apply for reservists. Servicemembers may transfer their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to a spouse or child, but only after meeting an additional service obligation of four years.
Under 38 U.S.C. § 3020(f)(3), Post-9/11 … Read More »
When going through a contested divorce or custody case many clients struggle with the concept of discovery, why it is necessary, and how it can benefit their case. Discovery is the legal process in which a party may ask questions of the other party and request documents relevant to the case. Discovery is an integral part of the litigation process because it provides notice to each side of the specific issues in contest, and evidence to help build their case. Many clients find that discovery can be their greatest asset or their worst enemy. For those clients that struggle with the discovery process it is generally because they are unprepared. Here are five tips for making the discovery process work for you:
Prepare before or at the beginning of the case. Discovery is typically issued at the onset of the case. Once … Read More »
On January 14, 2014, in the published opinion of Mayer v. Mayer, the Virginia Court of Appeals provided some much-needed guidance regarding continued child support for disabled children under Virginia law. Per Virginia Code § 20-124.2 a parent may petition and the court may grant the continuation of support for any child over the age of 18 who is (a) severely and permanently mentally or physically disabled, (b) unable to live independently and support himself, and (c) resides in the home of the parent seeking or receiving child support. However, there has been no bright-line rule as to whether the petition for continued support has to be filed before the child is emancipated in order for the court to consider it, or whether it can be filed after emancipation. The Court of Appeals in Mayer greatly clarified Virginia law in this area, by ruling that (1) … Read More »
Modification to Virginia Code Would Allow Consolidated Petitions
The issues of child custody and visitation are about as connected as any two issues can be. If you have any experience with Virginia custody cases, however, you know that it can feel like each part of your case has its own case number. And that’s because, by and large, it does! The Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Courts here in Virginia will assign one identification number for a child custody case and give a second, different number to a visitation case… for the same child. If paternity is an issue that becomes a third case number. And if there are multiple children, well, each child gets his or her own set of unique case numbers for his or her custody matter. Parents in a custody dispute can find themselves with more than … Read More »
Parties in custody or visitation disputes often find themselves in two separate counties or even states. This frequently leaves the parties to wonder which court has the authority to resolve the outstanding issues. If parties to a custody dispute, in which no previous order has been issued, file petitions in two different states, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) will dictate which state has the authority to make the custody determination. The UCCJEA is an act that has been adopted by 49 out of the 50 states, including Virginia, as an attempt to provide consistency between the states and prevent parents from moving to a certain state for a preferential outcome.
Generally, under the UCCJEA, a state will have jurisdiction to make an initial custody determination if it was the home state of the child when the petition was filed … Read More »