Category:Family Law


Common Myths of Family Law in Virginia

Posted on August 12th, 2018, by Brandi Howell in Family Law. No Comments

Family law encompasses many issues affecting families, including but not limited to divorce, child custody and visitation, child and spousal support, protective orders, pre/post-nuptial agreements and equitable distribution. With so much information on the internet, it may be difficult to get accurate answers about certain issues. Below, we debunk four common myths of family law in Virginia.

Myth #1: once a divorce is filed, the court cannot grant any relief until the end of the case.

This is false: circuit courts can grant temporary relief while a divorce suit is pending. Once a divorce suit is filed in circuit court, either party may file a motion for “pendente lite” (pending final resolution) relief. Pursuant to Virginia Code § 20-103, the court may then enter a pendente lite order:

to compel a spouse to pay monies necessary for the maintenance and support of the petitioning … Read More »


How Does Divorce and Separation Affect Financial Aid for College Students?

Posted on July 30th, 2018, by Alisa Chunephisal in Divorce, Family Law. No Comments

Divorce between parents is common before a child reaches college age. How do divorce and separation affect a child’s eligibility for financial aid? The impact of a divorce or separation on financial aid eligibility is dictated primarily by which financial aid applications must be submitted to the student’s university. There are two major financial aid applications used by colleges. The first is the more widely used application called the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the second is referred to as the CSS Profile (Profile), which is used by a small number of private colleges.

FAFSA

Generally, a student with divorced or separated parents will get a better financial aid package when filing a FAFSA because the FAFSA requires financial information only from the custodial parent, the parent who the student has lived with the most in the last 12 … Read More »


Changes to Virginia Spousal Support Law Effective July 1, 2018

Posted on May 17th, 2018, by Alisa Chunephisal in Family Law. No Comments

The 2018 session of the Virginia General Assembly made some major changes to the Virginia Code that will affect the issue of the modification of spousal support in Virginia starting July 1, 2018.

Modification of Spousal Support When a Separation Agreement Is Silent About Modification

Until these recent changes in the law, it has been well settled in Virginia that if a separation agreement (frequently referred to as a “marital settlement agreement” or “property settlement agreement”) is silent as to whether an award of spousal support is modifiable due to a material change of circumstances, then the presumption by a court is that the award was fixed and could not be revisited or modified. As a result, some parties were signing agreements with the intent that they would have the ability to modify the spousal support award, but instead, would later discover that because the … Read More »


Sleuthing Blunders: Privacy Law Implications in Virginia Divorce and Custody Cases

Posted on February 27th, 2018, by Anne Prentice in Custody, Divorce, Family Law. No Comments

A contested divorce or custody battle is one of the most stressful and emotional times in a person’s life. If you suspect a cheating spouse or are concerned for the welfare of your children, you may go to any length to gather evidence to prove your suspicions. You may be tempted to break into your spouse’s emails or social media accounts, record their communications, or use surveillance to track their movements. However, it is best to seek legal advice and proceed with caution so that you do not unwittingly break the law, and expose yourself to criminal and financial consequences. Furthermore, evidence you obtain unlawfully may be excluded as evidence—making its gathering not worth the risk in many cases.

Intercepting Your Spouse’s Emails and Conversations

The Interception of Wire, Electronic or Oral Communications Act, found in Virginia Code § 19.2-61 through § 19.2-70.3, governs the legality of … Read More »


Division of Retirement Accounts in a Virginia Divorce

Posted on February 26th, 2018, by Brianna Salerno in Divorce, Family Law. No Comments

Virginia is an “equitable distribution state,” which means that in any divorce proceeding, a circuit court is permitted to classify parties’ properties and debts as either separate property, marital property, or a hybrid property (consisting of both separate property and marital property funds). Once the circuit court classifies the parties’ properties and debts, then the court is authorized under Virginia law to divide these assets and debts accordingly.

One such type of marital asset that a Virginia circuit court will divide is any retirement accounts titled in either party’s name. In Virginia, the division of a retirement account shall not exceed fifty percent (50%) of the marital share. Under Virginia law, the marital share is is defined as the portion of the total interest that was earned during the marriage until the parties’ date of separation.

What Types of Retirement Accounts are … Read More »


Filing for Child Support When Parent’s Location Is Unknown

Posted on February 15th, 2018, by Sarah Patras in Family Law. No Comments

When you petition the court for child support, one of the things the court asks for is the address of both parents. So, what do you do if you don’t know where the other parent is? A parent is not relieved of his or her parental responsibilities merely because he or she can’t be located. However, not knowing the parent’s location may make it difficult for the court to enter an order, and even more difficult for the court to enforce an order.

For every child support case in Virginia, the court is required to serve the opposing party with notice of the petition for support and a summons for the date of the hearing. For a cost, a private investigator can be used to find the most recent addresses for the opposing party. Then, you can list the most reliable … Read More »


Student Loan Debt in Virginia Divorce Cases

Posted on February 12th, 2018, by Shirin Afsous in Divorce, Family Law. No Comments

The financial consequences of divorce may have lasting effects on a party’s monetary stability for years following the conclusion of the case. Virginia is an equitable distribution jurisdiction, meaning that in any divorce proceeding, the circuit court has the authority to classify the property of the parties as separate, marital or hybrid. The court then uses this designation when distributing the debts and property of the parties. Pursuant to Virginia’s equitable distribution statute, Virginia Code § 20-107.3, the court must consider all debts and property belonging to the parties, which includes all real, personal, tangible and intangible property.

While Virginia’s equitable distribution statute is intended to create a fair system for the division of property and debt, it may have unintended results for parties involved in a divorce who either entered the marriage with student loan debt or acquired student loan debt … Read More »


How to Prepare for a Custody Battle

Posted on February 5th, 2018, by Melannie Dino in Custody, Family Law. No Comments

You have accepted the fact that your marriage is ending and divorce is inevitable. But you want to do everything you can to ensure you have as much time with your children as possible. How can you best prepare yourself for a battle over custody?

Improve Your Communication. You need to do your part to open the lines of communication between you and your spouse regarding your children. Find a way to talk with your spouse about your children’s needs and desires. The communication must be positive and productive. You want to demonstrate that you will foster a relationship between your children and your spouse. You must show that you can co-parent with your spouse. Your emails, instant messages, text messages to your spouse or to others about your spouse must not be riddled with curse words, insults, or other damaging banter. Such … Read More »


Incorporation and Merger of Your Separation Agreement

Posted on January 29th, 2018, by Ariel Baniowski in Divorce, Family Law. No Comments

In many Virginia divorce cases, the parties resolve outstanding issues between them by use of a separation agreement, also frequently referred to as a “marital settlement agreement” or “property settlement agreement.” Often, parties are advised by their counsel that such an agreement will be “incorporated” into their final order of divorce, and most parties don’t even bother to question that advice, and even more are not even aware that the court has broad discretion to incorporate all, some or none of the provisions of their separation agreement.

So, what does it mean to incorporate an agreement (in whole or in part) into a final order of divorce, and what happens if the court does not incorporate the agreement into its final order of divorce?

Contract vs. Court Order

To begin answering those questions, let’s step back and ask: what is the difference between a private contract and … Read More »


Defenses to Divorce in Virginia

Posted on January 24th, 2018, by Brandi Howell in Divorce, Family Law. No Comments

An action for divorce in Virginia commences with the filing of a complaint for divorce by one spouse (the plaintiff) against his or her spouse (the defendant) in the appropriate circuit court. Once the complaint and summons are served on the defendant, he/she has 21 days to answer the complaint. The defendant’s answer may consist of denials and admissions to the plaintiff’s allegations and may include the pleading of other facts—providing their side of the story. The defendant may raise any and all defenses to the plaintiff’s alleged ground for divorce and even file a counter-claim against the plaintiff seeking similar relief.

In Virginia, a divorce can be filed on fault-based or “no-fault” grounds. The fault-based grounds include adultery, cruelty and desertion. The no-fault ground is (1) separation for at least twelve months or (2) separation for at least six months, with a separation agreement … Read More »


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