The Livesay & Myers, P.C. Blog
Marriage Story was released on Netflix in late 2019 to tremendous critical acclaim. The beautifully heartfelt film depicts the devastating unraveling of the marriage of two people, portrayed by Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver. Marriage Story artfully captures the emotional turmoil faced by many people after they make the decision to pursue a divorce.
If you are a Virginia resident facing a divorce, not everything you see in Marriage Story will apply to your own case. The film gets some details right, but other things that happen in the film are legally questionable, or at least would not apply to a case in Virginia. But, we can identify four lessons from Marriage Story that you can apply to your Virginia divorce.
Interstate Custody Jurisdiction
One legal detail that Marriage Story seems to get wrong relates to interstate custody jurisdiction. The child custody battle in … Read More »
You’re in a messy relationship with the other parent of your child—so messy that one of you has secured a no contact protective order against the other. How does that protective order affect the type of custody the court will award in your custody case? It might seem natural to assume that the court would refrain from awarding joint legal custody at a final custody hearing when the parties have a no contact protective order in place. After all, how would parents share the decision-making responsibilities of their child when they are prohibited from directly communicating with each other?
In most custody cases, courts are inclined to award joint legal custody because Virginia courts are statutorily mandated to assure frequent and continuing contact with both parents, when appropriate, and encourage parents to share in the responsibilities of rearing their children. Pursuant … Read More »
Mediation has long been a popular alternative to drawn-out, costly and emotional contested litigation in Virginia family law cases. However, mediation has up until recently most often been an avenue that the parties themselves must proactively elect to participate in. This has generally required that (a) the attorneys involved in the case be proactive about discussing and promoting mediation with their clients, (b) both parties in the case be receptive to the discussion and open to a form of alternative dispute resolution that occurs outside a courtroom, and (c) a mutually agreed upon mediator be selected and a mediation date be set prior to the final trial date in the case.
Recently, however, some courts in Virginia have begun making mediation a mandatory part of the litigation process for some cases, with the goal that the parties will be able to … Read More »
Though most states today have declassified adultery as a crime, adultery continues to be a criminally punishable offense (class 4 misdemeanor) in Virginia. Because adultery is still a crime in Virginia, a spouse accused of adultery in a Virginia divorce case may invoke his or her Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. Which means that the opposing party’s divorce lawyer may not simply call the accused spouse to the witness stand and force them to answer questions pertaining to the alleged adultery.
However, there is a one-year statute of limitations on the crime of adultery in Virginia, which means that a person can no longer be punished for committing adultery one year after the last adulterous act. This means that, back to our divorce case, the opposing divorce lawyer can ask questions related to affairs where the last adulterous acts occurred more … Read More »
You have a court order that defines your child custody and visitation arrangement with the other parent. That court order says that it is a “final” order. Can you modify your visitation or custody order if new circumstances arise?
The answer to that question is yes. Custody of minor children is always based on what is in the children’s best interests, and those interests may change over time. In Virginia, a court may alter a custody and visitation arrangement as the circumstances of the parents and the benefit of the children may require. Specifically, Virginia Code § 20-108 allows for modification of a custody or visitation order when (1) there has been a material change of circumstances and (2) it is in the best interest of the children to modify custody or visitation.
The material change in circumstances that is required for … Read More »
We are proud to announce that Livesay & Myers, P.C. appears in the 2020 Edition of the U.S. News & World Report listing of Best Law Firms, released on November 1, 2019!
The 2020 edition marks the tenth consecutive year that U.S. News & World Report, in combination with Best Lawyers, has ranked law firms nationwide. Livesay & Myers, P.C. made its debut on the list in the 2018 Edition.
Firms included in the 2020 Edition of Best Law Firms are recognized for professional excellence with consistently impressive ratings from clients and peers. To be eligible for a ranking, a ﬁrm must ﬁrst have a lawyer recognized in The Best Lawyers in America, which recognizes the top 5% of private practicing lawyers in the United States. Achieving a tiered ranking signals a unique combination of quality law practice and breadth of legal … Read More »
Some parents of special needs children receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits to help towards the care of their son or daughter. A special needs child may qualify as disabled and receive benefits if they have a physical or mental impairment which causes severe functional limitations that could last for more than 12 months or could result in death. There are a broad spectrum of qualifying children, including but not limited to youths diagnosed with severe developmental delays or Leukemia. Although these SSI benefits may appear to be a godsend at first, they could have a negative impact on child support.
To calculate child support in Virginia, the court must consider the gross income of both parties, the cost of the health insurance premium for the child, work-related childcare costs and the custodial schedule. These figures are inputted into the Virginia Child … Read More »
Under Virginia law, cheating on a spouse is illegal. In Virginia, any married person who voluntarily has sexual intercourse with a person who is not his or her spouse is guilty of adultery, which is punishable as a Class 4 misdemeanor. The maximum criminal penalty for adultery is a $250 fine, but the ramifications in a divorce action may be much more severe. Adultery can be used as a fault ground to obtain a divorce, may be a bar to spousal support and can be considered regarding child custody and equitable distribution of marital property.
Even so, what happens when a cheating spouse invokes his or her Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination? In Virginia, a party can exercise his or her constitutional privilege against self-incrimination in both criminal and civil actions. Depending on the circumstances of the case, a cheating spouse’s … Read More »
Relationships, custody disputes and divorces can all be volatile, with emotions running high. The emotions can spill over into harsh words or abusive behavior. Virginia law allows courts to enter protective orders, both long term and short term, to protect individuals against family abuse. These protective orders can protect not only the party seeking the protective order but also any other members of the household, such as children, other family members, or roommates.
Virginia Code § 16.1-253.1 provides courts the statutory authority to enter “preliminary protective orders” in Virginia. A preliminary protective order is usually done ex parte, meaning without the alleged abuser present, and is done either on an affidavit by the petitioner or by sworn oral testimony of the petitioner. If the court finds that “within a reasonable period of time” the petitioner has been subjected to “family abuse,” … Read More »
The Supreme Court of the United States issued a landmark decision on June 26, 2015 when Obergefell v. Hodges, 135 S. Ct. 2584 (2015) allowed for same-sex marriage in all fifty states. What this opinion did not address, however, was parentage of children born into those same-sex marriages or legal rights of non-birth parents to children born into those marriages through assisted conception.
Under Virginia law, a marriage creates a presumption of parentage. Virginia Code § 20-158 states that the gestational mother or “birth mother,” and the spouse of a birth mother, are the two parents of a child resulting from assisted conception. This allows for a birth mother and her wife to both be listed on their child’s birth certificate when the Department of Vital Statistics records the child’s information.
However, the presumption of parentage does not necessarily convey legal … Read More »