Anyone who is going through or has gone through a divorce can tell you how important it is that you have a very good attorney. But what not many people will tell you is that regardless of how good an attorney you have your results will suffer if you and your attorney cannot work together effectively. Having practiced family law for nearly 20 years I have a few ideas of what it takes to effectively work with your divorce lawyer. Here are my five favorite tips to help your divorce lawyer do a good job on your case.
Tip #1 – Don’t Hide Things from Your Lawyer
Lying and hiding things from your attorney is absolutely not in your best interest. Not only will it damage the relationship with your lawyer, it is likely to cause great damage … Read More »
When you find yourself on the path to divorce, you quickly realize that it is a challenging process, both procedurally and emotionally. A divorce can become even more complicated if your spouse is incarcerated. Though the process may be somewhat different, the fact that your spouse is incarcerated does not prevent you from obtaining a divorce in Virginia.
In fact, incarceration is one of several fault grounds for divorce in Virginia. Virginia Code Section 20-91(A)(3) states that if one of the parties to a marriage has been convicted of a felony, and sentenced to confinement for more than one year, a divorce may be granted. However, you should be aware of some caveats to this ground for divorce. In order to proceed for divorce on this ground, your spouse’s conviction and sentencing must have occurred after the date of marriage and … Read More »
Mediation is an increasingly popular form of alternative dispute resolution, used by more and more divorcing couples in Virginia. But, how do you know when mediation is in your best interests?
The goal of mediation is to effectuate a settlement between two opposing parties through the presence of a neutral third party. The strategies employed by mediators vary greatly and the length of the process can range from a couple hours to a number of days. For example, some mediators prefer to work collectively with the parties and attorneys to come up with an efficient solution. Others prefer to work with each party individually and determine his or her most important interests, and then relay those interests to the other party in a less contentious manner. “Offers” may be exchanged back and forth.
Ultimately, the result achieved from mediation is not binding … Read More »
Virginia is an equitable distribution state, meaning that the court has the authority in your divorce suit to classify the property of the parties as separate, marital or hybrid, to distribute any jointly owned marital property between the parties, and to grant a monetary award to either party to ensure that the division of marital property is fair and equitable.
The law of equitable distribution is complex, and not every detail will be addressed in this blog post. The purpose of this post is instead to set forth a few simple principles to help you determine what property will be off-limits to your spouse in your divorce case. In other words, what do you get to keep? What is your sole, separate property not subject to equitable distribution?
Generally speaking, the following kinds of property will be classified as separate in Virginia:
Property … Read More »
When a couple has the misfortune of proceeding toward divorce, often the marital home is the most valuable property to address. There are many things to consider when navigating this process in Virginia, and here are a few of the most important questions that must be answered.
How is the home titled and who is listed on the mortgage?
This will help to determine the options that are available for you. For example, if both parties are listed on the mortgage, and if one wants to keep the home, he or she will need to qualify for a refinance to remove the other’s name and take on the debt in full. And if the home is jointly titled, the party relinquishing it will need to execute a quitclaim need, special warranty deed or general warranty deed for the other.
Is the home marital, … Read More »
Stafford County is one of the busier jurisdictions in Northern Virginia, with a very active civil docket. On any given day, a Circuit Court Judge may hear a debtor-creditor action in the morning, a landlord-tenant dispute before lunch, and then spend the entire afternoon on a child custody case. The judges’ calendars are carefully monitored, allowing parties sufficient time to have their day in court. On the civil side, trials are scheduled on “Term Day.”
Stafford’s civil term is a period of three months, with new terms beginning on the first Monday in January, April, July and October. The first day of each term is commonly referred to as “Term Day.” At Term Day, any case that is “mature” (ready to be heard) may be placed on the docket to have a trial date set with the judge assigned to hear … Read More »
If you are in the process of getting a divorce or fighting for custody of your children in Fairfax County, you may need information from the opposing party concerning his or her assets, living situation, sources of income, etc. This is where the discovery process comes in. The discovery process is an evidence-gathering opportunity for you to gain information that you would not otherwise have on your own. There are two types of discovery: (1) informal discovery, where parties and their attorneys voluntarily exchange documents and information, and (2) formal discovery, where litigants extract information from each other through written discovery requests, which carry deadlines for response and may be enforced by court action.
The discovery process may vary according to the court in which you file. In the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court you must request permission from the court … Read More »
The first step for most people in obtaining legal counsel for a divorce is to have an initial consultation with an attorney. Most consultations are scheduled for one-half to one full hour and most divorce 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 divorce, 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.
To make the most of your divorce consultation, remember the following:
Seek assistance early. In many instances, there are deadlines for response … Read More »
The Fairfax County Courthouse (called the “Jennings Judicial Center”) is the busiest courthouse in the Commonwealth. The Fairfax Circuit Court judges strive to ensure that the Circuit Court criminal and civil dockets run as smoothly and expeditiously as possible. As per the Constitution of the United States, persons charged with crimes are guaranteed the right to a speedy trial. This requires the Circuit Court to implement strict procedures to guarantee that the civil docket, including divorce cases, can proceed in a timely manner.
As discussed by Matthew Smith in Navigating The Fairfax County Courts, civil motions are heard on Fridays in Fairfax Circuit Court. One of the most common motions heard on Fridays are motions related to “pendente lite” (pending final resolution) relief. A divorcing party can use a motion for pendente lite relief to seek a number of different remedies including, … Read More »
If you have a hearing or trial scheduled in Fairfax County, the Fairfax County Courthouse (called the “Jennings Judicial Center”) may at first seem overwhelming. The busiest courthouse in the Commonwealth of Virginia sees approximately 20,000 people enter on a weekly basis, and the enormous, $120 million expansion, which was completed in 2008, only adds to the potential for intimidation.
When arriving, it’s important to note that the public parking garage is a 5-10 minute walk to the main entrance. Long lines will often develop at the security checkpoint that everyone must traverse, so be sure to arrive early. An information desk is available past the security area to provide further assistance.
For cases in family law, which is my area of practice, the Circuit Courtrooms are located on the fourth and fifth floors, and the Juvenile and Domestic Relations (JDR) Courtrooms … Read More »