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 »
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 »
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 »
If you are facing a custody or visitation case in Virginia, it is especially important that you maintain and strengthen your co-parenting skills. Doing so will benefit your children, and can only help you in court.
As a parent, it is human nature to put your children’s needs first in every part of life. In Virginia, courts adopt this same view when making determinations regarding child custody and visitation. Virginia courts are statutorily required to take each of ten “best interest factors” into consideration before making a ruling. Although all the factors are important, two factors may have swaying power when the court is faced with two genuinely good parents:
“[t]he propensity of each parent to actively support the child’s contact and relationship with the other parent, including whether a parent has unreasonably denied the other parent access to or visitation with the child;” … Read More »
It is very common these days for both parents to work outside of the home, whether on a part-time or full-time basis. For many parents, this requires a juggling of responsibilities and it also requires making sure that children are supervised and looked after appropriately. It is difficult enough for many parents to find the appropriate care for their children when two parents are living under the same roof; however, the situation becomes even more complicated when parties are separated or divorced.
While Virginia law does not provide a specific age at which you can leave your child at home alone, many Virginia counties set their own guidelines for supervision of minor children. These guidelines are typically drafted and developed by social workers and other community members. These county-specific guidelines are not laws; however, not following them can have legal implications.
Virginia courts … Read More »
Many family law clients ask the same question during their initial consultation: “which court should I file in?” In Virginia, both the juvenile and domestic relations district court (“J&DR court”) and the circuit court handle family law cases. The J&DR court has the power to hear matters concerning custody, visitation, child support, and spousal support. The circuit court can hear all of the same issues, in addition to divorce and equitable distribution.
Unmarried couples with children must file in the J&DR court for custody, visitation, and child support to be determined. For couples who are divorcing, there are factual, procedural, and strategic considerations that come into play when determining which court to start in. Generally speaking, if one of the parties has grounds for a divorce, it may make more sense to begin the matter in circuit court, but this is … Read More »
In Virginia, there are two types of courts that handle family law cases: juvenile and domestic relations district courts (“J&DR courts”) and circuit courts. Circuit courts have the authority to hear divorce cases and all matters stemming from divorce, including child custody, visitation and support, spousal support and equitable distribution. J&DR courts can hear cases of custody, visitation, child support and spousal support, but have no authority over divorce matters. J&DR courts thus hear many cases involving unmarried individuals who share children—but are not off limits to married persons by any means.
In some instances, married individuals may file petitions for custody, visitation or support in J&DR court, even if they intend to ultimately seek a divorce in circuit court. In many cases, neither individual of the married couple has grounds to file for divorce in Virginia, but still needs a determination … Read More »
People undergoing the process of separation and divorce face many major, life-changing events all at one time. First and foremost in the minds of most parents in this situation is the issue of child custody. The initial question on the minds of many is: “Can I get sole custody of my kids?” While many parents are inclined to seek sole custody of their kids, very few are familiar with what the term “sole custody” actually means, and the difficulty that comes with trying to win sole custody of children in Virginia.
In Virginia, there are two types of custody: legal and physical. Legal custody is the right to make decisions for your children, including major decisions such as healthcare, education, and religious upbringing. Physical custody is where the children live. Visitation is a subset of physical custody, and can be generally … Read More »
It is not uncommon for people undergoing divorce to approach their attorneys with a laundry list of terms regarding their children that they would like included in their separation agreement, or for people who already divorced to approach attorneys with child-related terms of an existing separation agreement which they need enforced. What many people are surprised to hear is that some of those terms which they would like included, or some of the terms that may already be in their agreement, are actually unenforceable under Virginia law.
The first thing to understand in this area is that provisions in agreements regarding child custody, visitation and child support are always modifiable based upon a material change in circumstances. Always! So, any provision in an agreement which indefinitely prohibits the modification of custody, visitation or child support would be unenforceable.
Secondly, there are plenty of … Read More »
A written agreement between parents or a court order regarding custody and visitation are the most common methods by which custody and visitation are determined between parents who are no longer together. However, in the event that one parent will be absent from the country, a power of attorney may be an appropriate means of giving someone who is not a custodian or guardian of your children the ability to act on your behalf during their absence.
Virginia law provides for children’s enrollment in school when living with relatives who are not their parents, by use of special “kinship care arrangements.”
Virginia also allows military families to have a power of attorney regarding the care of minor children, by recognizing the military power of attorney instrument provided in 10 U.S.C. § 1044(b). See Virginia Code § 64.2-1604 and the Interstate Compact on … Read More »