The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is raising special challenges for those facing separation, divorce, custody or support cases in Virginia. Couples who were experiencing marital difficulties before the crisis may find those difficulties magnified as they now spend much more time together at home. There are various custody and visitation issues raised by COVID-19, as well as issues of modification of support as many people are laid off from their jobs.
The Supreme Court of Virginia has issued an order temporarily limiting the types of cases that will be heard in Virginia. The order instructs Virginia courts to give precedence to certain emergency matters including emergency child custody cases, quarantine or isolation matters, and protective order cases. For more information, see Filing a New Family Law Case During the Judicial Emergency in Virginia.
The situation with COVID-19 does not mean that … Read More »
In response to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, on March 16, 2020 the Supreme Court of Virginia entered an order declaring a judicial emergency in Virginia. The initial judicial emergency order declared the judicial emergency through April 6, 2020, but the Supreme Court subsequently entered two additional judicial emergency orders, each time extending the emergency period by an additional 21 days. As of its most recent judicial emergency order, the Supreme Court has extended the judicial emergency period through May 17, 2020.
The judicial emergency order limits matters being heard in Virginia courts during this time—however, courts are not closed entirely. While courts are not operating at their normal capacity, judges are are still hearing cases. The order instructs Virginia courts to give precedence to certain emergency matters including emergency child custody cases, quarantine or isolation matters, and protective order cases.
The … Read More »
Members of the Virginia legislature have concluded their work for the 2020 session. Included in their passed bills was a major change to Virginia Code § 8.01-223.1 concerning the assertion of constitutional rights in civil actions. The new law, which goes into effect on July 1, 2020, will make proving adultery easier in divorce and other family law cases in Virginia.
Parties in Virginia civil actions have previously had broad protection of their constitutional rights, and courts have been entirely prohibited from using any assertion of constitutional rights against them. Beginning July 1, 2020, when a party to a family law case invokes their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and refuses to answer questions regarding their alleged adultery, judges may now make an “adverse inference” against that party.
Adultery is a crime in Virginia—a Class 4 misdemeanor under Virginia Code § 18.2-365. … Read More »
For those facing a divorce, custody or support battle, one of the most nerve-wracking aspects of their case is the prospect of testifying at trial. Especially since for many people it is their first experience being in court.
You may be one of these anxious individuals. However, you should not allow trial scenes from Law & Order episodes to scare you, because there are a number of ways you can prepare for the uncertainty of trial.
First, you should familiarize yourself with the trial process and the courthouse. A trial usually proceeds as follows:
Opening statement of the Plaintiff.
Opening statement of the Defendant.
Plaintiff’s case-in-chief, during which they present evidence and witnesses through direct examination. The Defendant’s attorney can cross-examine these witnesses; however, their questions are limited to the scope of the direct examination. If direct examination addresses topic A only, the Defendant’s attorney … Read More »
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 »
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 »
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 »
Now that you are separated from your spouse, you may be asking yourself: “I want to move on with my life and meet new people. Can I reenter the dating world? What happens if I become romantically involved with someone?” Unfortunately, under Virginia law there are no simple answers to these questions. For those who are currently separated and either dating or are thinking about dating, there are several factors to consider.
First, unlike some states, there is no such thing as a “legal separation” in Virginia. Under Virginia law, you are either married or divorced, so even though you may be separated from your spouse physically, you are still married in the eyes of the law. With that being said, no one can prevent you from dating during your separation. It is not a crime to do so, and … Read More »
Going through a divorce can be a time of uncertainty, and you probably have many questions about the process. While there are many issues that arise during a divorce, one of the main concerns you might have is how your property is going to be divided. You may be wondering what is going to happen to the marital home, bank accounts, retirement accounts and pensions, personal property, and debts. How will the court divide everything?
These questions are only compounded when one of the parties has received an inheritance. What about that money your grandparents left for you in their will when they passed away years ago? Or how about the summer vacation home that has been in your spouse’s family for years? Is a person entitled to part of their spouse’s inheritance, even though it was meant as a gift … Read More »
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.
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 »