As reported by multiple news outlets, the four-year relationship between Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart (co-stars of the popular “Twilight” film series) is coming to an end. The most recent ripple effect of this break-up is the ensuing pet custody battle over their rescued dog, Bear. The New York Daily News reports that Pattinson wants Bear all to himself, while Stewart is seeking “joint custody” of their pet.
Pets are an integral part of many family units, and pet custody cases are on the rise across the nation. However, as I previously explained on this blog, Virginia law still treats pets as “mere property” to be divided in divorce cases. A Virginia court could no more order joint custody of a dog or a cat than it could order joint custody of a plasma television, a kitchen table, or an eggplant … Read More »
With the integration of social media into the everyday personal lives of so many, it’s no wonder that Facebook was cited in 20 percent of divorce cases filed in 2010. That number has only continued to rise. While Facebook can be a powerful tool for proving your case in court, you should steer clear of certain evidentiary pitfalls.
All things considered, logging on to your spouse’s Facebook account using their email address and password is not a good way to gather evidence. Even when using a shared home computer, you run the risk of having your spouse’s attorney object to the evidence because of how it was obtained, or even having criminal charges filed against you. Simply put: logging in to your spouse’s Facebook account might get you trouble, and probably won’t result in evidence that the court will actually consider.
However, there … Read More »
“What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine.” We have all made that joke at one time or another. Much of the time, we don’t mean it when we say it; and certainly, almost 100% of the time, the person we’re saying it to does not think we mean it. However, in the law, this old adage can prove true, but not in the way you might initially think, and it could have an impact on you in a variety of areas of law.
Imagine that your spouse is the victim of a head-on motor vehicle accident. The other driver is to blame. Your spouse is transported by EMS to the nearest hospital’s emergency department and treated for serious injuries. Your spouse is discharged after two days and expected to make a full recovery thanks to the swift work of … Read More »
Starting July 1, 2012, Virginia residents may have an easier path to finalizing a divorce. Governor Bob McDonnell approved changes to Virginia Code Section 20-99 loosening the notice requirements in divorce cases. The new portion of that Code section (which deals with how suits for divorce are instituted) reads as follows:
In cases where such suits have been commenced, the defendant has been served pursuant to the provisions of subdivision 1 of [Virginia Code Section] 8.01-296, and the defendant has failed to file an answer to the suit or otherwise appear within the time allowed by law, no further notice to take depositions is required to be served on the defendant and the court may enter any order or final decree without further notice to the defendant.
In other words, when a defendant in a divorce proceeding was personally served with the Complaint for … Read More »
Family law is a unique area of law because the family is a constantly changing entity. Children grow older, parents remarry, and in this global economy jobs are often gained and lost on opposite sides of the country if not the world. This constant change can wreak havoc on family law court orders that were entered under an entirely different set of facts or in completely different jurisdictions than the family’s current home. If you find yourself staring at an old court order and wondering what a provision means, or what your options are to change it, then you should consider consulting with a family law attorney today.
Litigation is expensive, time consuming and stressful. Making an appointment to discuss your case with an attorney before you receive a summons to appear in court will decrease your overall stress and allow … Read More »
When divorcing or separating, there are several different types of custodial relationships in Virginia. The wide range of options allows both parents and the courts to determine the best interests of the child. But what do you do when your “child” is a golden retriever named Rex?
The past decade has seen a significant rise in “pet custody” cases: pet owners asking the court to decide ownership and custody of their pets. Several states have also proposed laws to provide judges with guidance on pet visitation, dividing vet bills—even when owners could relocate with their pets.
In Virginia, however, the law has remained unchanged: pets are property. In a divorce case all marital property—property acquired during the marriage—is divided between the parties. If the pet was purchased during the marriage, it must be valued and given to one party or the other as … Read More »
In any separation, one of the most difficult issues to address is the marital residence. Whether secured by a mortgage or owned free-and-clear, the home typically represents the most valuable asset owned by a couple. In this buyer’s market, it can be difficult (if not impossible) to simply sell a house and split the profits. Sometimes, the parties want one parent to stay in the house until their kids finish school to avoid pulling them from their childhood home. In other cases, there simply may be no realistic way to sell the house for a profit. This reality often leads parties to consider continuing jointly owning their house beyond their separation and divorce, whether that is for two, five, or even ten years.
While on its face this approach seems practical, deciding to retain joint ownership over the marital residence after … Read More »
A recent op-ed published by The New York Times makes the argument that states should adopt set guidelines for determining alimony awards. The editorial, “Ending the Alimony Guessing Game,” argues that making spousal support awards more predictable would result in more fairness and less costly litigation.
This argument is absolutely correct. Adoption of a strong statewide spousal support formula in Virginia would take a lot of the guesswork out of most alimony cases, resulting in more settlements of contested divorce, and saving parties thousands of dollars in legal fees in many cases.
Virginia law does seem to be moving toward more and more reliance on certain guidelines in determining spousal support—most commonly the so-called “Fairfax guidelines.” As explained in Spousal Support in Virginia, Virginia has now adopted the Fairfax guidelines statewide for determining spousal support in Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court cases.
If and … Read More »
Technology is a wonderful tool to make our lives easier and help us connect with friends across the world, through social networking sites such as Facebook, Myspace or LinkedIn. Technology has allowed instant communication through texting, instant messaging and e-mail. While these technological advances may make our social lives more enjoyable, they can lead to hidden perils during a divorce or custody case.
Social Networking Sites
Posting on a social networking site may seem like harmless fun, but during a divorce or custody case these postings can easily move from the computer to the courtroom. Your time in front of a Judge is limited, and the last thing you want to do is waste time defending the angry wall post you wrote at 2 a.m. or those pictures of you blowing off steam at a friend’s party, during your divorce or custody … Read More »
Unfortunately, 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 it 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 wait one year to file if you have children and/or … Read More »