This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.
In these challenging times, many people reach a point of no return in their marital relationship. Perhaps a spouse has been unfaithful or abusive, or maybe two people have simply drifted apart over time. Whatever the reason, you’ve made the decision that you need to turn the page and move on with your life.
One of the first steps in the divorce process is the establishment of a date of separation. But why is that important? And how can you ensure that you’ve done it correctly?
A separation date may be crucial to your divorce case for a number of reasons. First, if you don’t have a fault basis for your complaint (adultery, cruelty, desertion, constructive desertion, etc.), then your separation date will determine when you can file for divorce. In Virginia, you must … Read More »
The Virginia General Assembly has made a significant change to Virginia Code § 20-106 concerning the requirements for a no-fault divorce. Effective July 1, 2021, Virginia law will no longer require a corroborating witness for a divorce based on no-fault grounds. The new law makes it significantly easier to obtain a no-fault divorce in Virginia.
In Virginia, there are two ways to obtain a divorce: fault grounds or no-fault grounds. There are advantages and disadvantages to each. The fault grounds for divorce in Virginia are adultery, cruelty, desertion, and felony conviction and confinement in excess of one year. To qualify for a no-fault divorce in Virginia, the parties must have been separated for at least one year if there are minor children. If there are no minor children, the parties only need to be separated for six months, with a signed … Read More »
Everyone knows that divorce can be war. Litigating divorce issues is fraught with battles that are filled with arguments, vitriol, and the burning desire to “win.” The emotional and financial toll can be crippling for the parties and their children. In Virginia, divorce trials are public, which means anyone can sit in the courtroom and listen to the most intimate details of your personal life. Divorce can be stressful, expensive, and unpredictable. But it doesn’t have to be.
You may already be familiar with some of the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) approaches to resolve divorce-related issues: you and your spouse can reach an agreement between yourselves; you can attend mediation (with or without attorneys); or you can participate in a settlement conference with your attorneys. However, underlying each of these methods is the immediate threat of litigation if an agreement is … Read More »
Your spouse tells you that she wants a divorce. This is not what you had ever imagined. Perhaps you are shocked, devastated, or a little bit angry. What do you do now? It was not supposed to be this way. Unfortunately, if your spouse does want a divorce, you can’t prevent her from ultimately obtaining one. Fortunately, there are ways of slowing down the process to ensure that your legal rights are protected.
If your spouse wants a divorce, you don’t have to do anything until she actually files and serves you with a Complaint for Divorce. Your spouse can threaten you with divorce, or present you with a marital settlement agreement demanding that you sign it, but you aren’t obligated to do or sign anything. Once you are served with a Complaint for Divorce in the Commonwealth of Virginia, you … Read More »
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 »