If you find yourself in the middle of a contested divorce and the stakes are high, you may need more assistance than your attorney can provide. With an eye toward preparing your case for trial or simply aiding in the settlement process, several categories of experts can be utilized to bolster your position and create compelling evidence in your favor.
These experts are typically experienced as trial witnesses, and the best ones come armed with CVs that add weight to their testimony and shield them from withering cross-examination. Experts can also prepare reports for use as evidence in court or as tools to bring the parties closer to settlement.
You should consider whether hiring any of the following six types of experts would be a worthwhile investment of time and money in your ongoing divorce:
Business Evaluator: This expert can be critical in cases … Read More »
So you’re open to reaching a fair divorce settlement with your spouse, but you don’t have confidence that the two of you (with or without your attorneys) can make lasting progress around a conference table. In that setting, emotions may run too high or your spouse may fixate on certain elements of your case that cloud and crowd out everything else.
Maybe there has been infidelity, domestic violence, abandonment or simply a failure to communicate without every interaction devolving into a shouting match. These are all-too-common elements in contested family law cases. You may need a neutral third party with authority to step in and help drag your case across the finish line.
Whether your mediator is a retired judge or family law practitioner, he or she will likely be knowledgeable and experienced in family law and skilled in the art of … Read More »
In Virginia divorce actions, one of the first questions parties often ask is “who is going to get to keep what?”
Virginia is an equitable distribution state, meaning that the court has the authority in any divorce to classify the property of the parties as separate, marital or hybrid. This classification is vitally important, because the court only has the power to divide marital and hybrid property—not any separate property.
The article Equitable Distribution: Using Separate Property For A Marital Loan explains the Virginia Court of Appeals decision rendered in Layman v. Layman and the impact on property classification when a party uses separate property throughout a marriage.
The Court of Appeals in David v. David, Va. App., Record No. 0653-12-2 (2015) recently highlighted another potential pitfall on the road to proving separate property is actually separate. The David case illustrates important issues when stock and investment accounts … Read More »
Family law attorneys are constantly asked what, if any, advantage there is to filing first. Whether it is for divorce, custody or support, the answer is both “yes, there is an advantage” and “no, there is not an advantage.”
The answer is “no,” because your allegations, evidence, and prayers for relief will be reviewed impartially by the court—whether you filed first or not. The judge will not favor either party because of the order of filing.
The answer is “yes” for two main reasons: (1) you get to set the pace for litigation and/or settlement, and (2) you get to speak first and last in the event your case goes to trial.
Setting the Pace
Filing first means having some degree of control over the pace and nature of litigation and/or settlement. Are you hopeful for a settlement, and do you want to demonstrate that to the opposing party? Are you … Read More »
Imagine a married couple separates and one party moves out of the Commonwealth of Virginia, with no intention to return. The spouse who remains in Virginia wants to pursue a divorce. A circuit court in Virginia can divorce the parties, as long as there are grounds for divorce and the proper procedures are followed. But what if the Virginia resident wants to request spousal support?
For the Virginia court to order spousal support in that situation, it must first find that it has personal or “in personam” jurisdiction over the non-resident. There are several ways that a court can have personal jurisdiction, per Virginia Code §8.01-328.1. There are two, however, that are of particular importance to parties going through a divorce.
First we have Virginia Code §8.01-328.1(A)(8), which provides that a court may exercise personal jurisdiction over a person who:
…executed an agreement … Read More »
Appeals Filed By Both Sides
Previously on this Blog, Livesay & Myers, P.C. senior associate Matthew Smith explained the decision rendered in the divorce action between Continental Resources CEO Harold Hamm and his now-ex-wife, Sue Ann Arnall. This case was, and is, noteworthy because the decision awarded Ms. Hamm almost one billion dollars ($955,481,842, to be precise) for her share of the marital estate. If the trial court’s decision stands, this will be one of the largest divorce settlements of all time. The highest recorded settlement to date was for the divorce of Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev ($4.5 billion dollars).
However, at present both parties to this proceeding have filed appeals to the Oklahoma State Supreme Court. Oklahoma, like Virginia, is an equitable distribution jurisdiction, where the court determines the extent of the … Read More »
One of the largest divorce judgments in United States history was rendered this week, when Continental Resources Chief Executive Officer Harold Hamm was ordered to pay nearly $1 billion to his ex-wife.
After a nine-week divorce trial that ended last month, Oklahoma Judge Howard Haralson ruled, in an 80-page decision, that Sue Ann Hamm should receive a total of $995.5 million, among other significant assets.
And it would seem that Mr. Hamm got off lightly. The marital estate was estimated to be worth at least $18 billion, largely tied up in Continental shares, and Ms. Hamm sought a much larger sum than what she was awarded.
Mr. Hamm controls 68% of the oil company’s stock, and the ruling does not require him to part with those shares. Still, Ms. Hamm will shortly become one of … Read More »
When negotiating a marital settlement agreement or separation agreement, you will inevitably hear your counsel talk about certain standard “boilerplate” provisions. You will probably just glance over these provisions, and your attorney will likely only touch on them briefly while focusing on the meat of the agreement—custody and visitation, support, property, debts, retirement, etc. Unfortunately, such a crude review of these provisions could prove costly.
Take for example the case of Hale v. Hale (2003), wherein Wife was awarded a portion of both Husband’s employer-provided pension plan and his employer-contributed 401(k). Wife had sought an equitable distribution of both assets, while Husband had maintained that only the pension plan was to be divided per the parties’ separation agreement. The agreement referred in its retirement provisions to the “pension plan” in the singular. However, the heading of the retirement provisions and the parties’ boilerplate preamble language … Read More »
The first step for most people in obtaining legal counsel for a custody, divorce or other family law matter is to have an initial consultation with an attorney. Most consultations are scheduled for one-half to one full hour and most family lawyers in Northern Virginia do charge a consultation fee. The consultation is your opportunity to describe your situation to an attorney and receive an overview of the legal issues in your case, and perhaps a proposed course of action. It is also your opportunity to interview the lawyer in order to decide if they are the person to best represent you and your legal interests. Likewise, the consultation allows the attorney to determine if the case is one in which they can offer assistance.
Here are ten tips to help you make the most of your family law initial consultation:
Seek advice as … Read More »
Virginia Code Section 20-107.1 provides that pursuant to a divorce, a court may reserve the right of a party to receive spousal support in the future. Furthermore, “in any case so reserved, there shall be a rebuttable presumption that the reservation will continue for a period equal to 50 percent of the length of time between the date of marriage and the date of separation. Once granted, the duration of such reservation shall not be subject to modification.”
What does this mean? This means that in lieu of a spousal support award, or in addition to a spousal support award, a Virginia court can grant a reservation for one or both parties to seek additional spousal support from the other in the future.
Why would a spouse not elect to immediately pursue his or her reservation? Because it’s not as simple as … Read More »