Category:Family Law


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 »


Passports for Minor Children Where Parents Share Joint Custody

Posted on November 15th, 2017, by Shirin Afsous in Custody, Family Law. No Comments

Passport applications for children under the age of 14 require the signatures of both parents. However, in situations where parents share joint legal custody, one parent may not consent and may actively seek to prevent the child’s removal from the United States. In these situations, state courts can authorize or restrict international travel, and may even order a parent to cooperate in securing a passport for their child.

In 2001, the U.S. government began requiring both parents’ signatures on a minor child’s passport application. This rule applies to new passports for children under the age of 14. Children over the age of 16 only require one parent’s signature. Prior to 2001, one parent was able to complete a child’s passport application without the other parent being in agreement or even knowing that an application was submitted. The new rule was created to … Read More »


Three Tips for Keeping Costs Down in Your Divorce

Posted on November 13th, 2017, by Melannie Dino in Divorce, Family Law. No Comments

Contested divorce cases can be extremely costly. The costs are often driven up by an aggressive opposing party or counsel, or through multiple actions being heard at the same time, sometimes even in different courts. If you find yourself in such a situation, you may not be able to completely prevent costs from rising. However, there are some steps you can take to help keep your attorney’s fees as low as possible. Here are three tips for keeping costs down in your divorce:

Consolidate communications with your attorney. Communication between you and your attorney will be essential in your divorce. However, in many cases a client will both telephone and email their attorney several times in the course of a day. Costs can add up quickly if you do not do your part to make each communication efficient and meaningful. If time permits, … Read More »


Do You Need an Attorney for a Separation Agreement?

Posted on November 8th, 2017, by Melannie Dino in Family Law. No Comments

In today’s world, there is a wealth of information available over the internet. People often turn to the web when trying to find a cheaper method for preparing a separation agreement or “property settlement agreement.” Agreement templates are available online for a nominal fee, which makes them very attractive to many divorcing couples.

However, each divorce case is unique. Forms found online are general and may not adequately address your needs. You may find that the form you chose to use is tailored for a different jurisdiction or even a different state than where you live. The form may not reference the correct applicable law, or may fail to include provisions that are vital in your case.

Some choose to use a friend or co-worker’s previously drafted agreement and try to make that agreement work for their own case. However, the facts … Read More »


Separate Maintenance in Virginia

Posted on October 30th, 2017, by Melannie Dino in Family Law. No Comments

Virginia law allows a married person who is separated from their spouse to file a petition for “separate maintenance.” Separate maintenance is distinct from spousal support, and may be an attractive option to individuals who require support from their spouse but who do not want or cannot yet file for a divorce.

Separate maintenance initiated as a common-law remedy. It was developed to provide an equitable remedy when there was not an adequate legal remedy. Black’s Law dictionary defines separate maintenance as “money paid by one married person to another for support if they are no longer living together as husband and wife.” At common law in Virginia, there were essentially four elements to a case for separate maintenance: (1) the party from whom support is sought must be at fault, (2) the party seeking support and maintenance must be without fault, (3) … Read More »


Enforcing Islamic Marital Agreements in Virginia Courts

Posted on September 22nd, 2017, by Shirin Afsous in Family Law. No Comments

Divorce proceedings are emotionally and financially taxing, but the complexity of the process increases significantly with added cultural issues surrounding the marriage. In Islamic cultures, the bride and groom enter into a marital agreement either on or shortly before the wedding date. This contract includes the promise of a gift from the groom to the bride, which is called mahr. The bride may claim the gift at the time of marriage, or at any later date of her choosing. The mahr is the wife’s separate property and the husband has no legal claim to it. Different cultures prescribe various forms of mahr, but generally the contract includes a future promise, at an unknown date, of gold or money. It is pertinent to note that mahr is not a price that the groom pays for the bride, but rather, a gift from the husband … Read More »


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