If your spouse was a reckless spender during your marriage, and you thought divorce would finally end the financial pillage of your hard-earned dollars and the unspeakable terrorizing of your credit score—think again. Effective July 2011, all debt incurred by either party after the date of marriage and before the date of separation is presumed to be marital. But, you protest, she signed up for that Macy’s card alone and I haven’t seen one thing in the house from Macy’s! According to the amended Virginia Code Section 20-107.3(A), if you believe a debt incurred during the marriage is separate, you have to prove it, regardless of whose name was on the account.
It was not always this way. In April 2010, in the case of Gilliam v. McGrady, the Virginia Supreme Court stated that debts jointly incurred during the marriage are … Read More »
Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) coverage is a benefit commonly awarded to former spouses in military divorce cases in Virginia, particularly where the spouse will be receiving a significant share of the servicemember’s military retired pay.
Survivor Benefit Plan – The Basics
What is SBP? SBP is an annuity plan that, after the death of a retired servicemember, pays a monthly sum to a beneficiary designated by the servicemember. SBP payments begin at the death of the retired servicemember, when the servicemember’s retired pay would normally cease. SBP coverage therefore permits a servicemember to continue to provide income to a named beneficiary upon the servicemember’s death. SBP coverage is analogous to life insurance in that it provides servicemembers security that their dependents will be cared for when they are gone.
The Defense Finance and Accounting Services (DFAS) automatically deducts the monthly premiums for SBP coverage … Read More »
A while back I wrote a blog piece about establishing a date of separation in your divorce process, and why it’s so important once you have made the decision to move on. Let’s take things a step further. Now that you are in the process of separating, what do you need to know to protect your interests and prepare for the road ahead?
First of all, assess the character and personality of your spouse. How will he or she react to the separation? Is there a chance of spiteful financial retribution? Is there a fear of negligent financial mismanagement? You’ll want to look at how many joint financial accounts (checking, savings, money market, etc.) and joint credit cards are currently open, and consider separating those assets and debts to limit your liability. Many people have fallen victim to a post-separation “race … Read More »
More than a thousand Virginia families are close to receiving their share of a million dollar settlement. The lawsuit, brought by the Virginia Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE), is a result of improper actions taken by the Texas-based company Supportkids Inc. in collecting child support payments.
As reported in the Richmond Times-Dispatch and other news outlets:
The lawsuit, filed in 2008, claimed Supportkids illegally used misleading “withholding orders” that appeared to be government-issued to get child support payments withheld from noncustodial parents’ paychecks. The company allegedly extracted fees often exceeding 35 percent.
“They were getting the custodial parent to assign child support payments to the company, and that’s not legal or enforceable in Virginia,” [Thomas M. Wolf, a private attorney who represented Virginia in the case against Supportkids] said. “Child support belongs to the child, not the custodial parent, so … Read More »
You and your spouse were married in Hawaii. You resided as a married couple in Virginia for many years. Discord arose and now you have been separated for over a year. One month ago, your soon-to-be ex moved to sunny Southern California, while you remained in Virginia. You are ready to move on and want to begin divorce proceedings, where do you file?
Determining where to file your divorce is a question of jurisdiction. A court must have jurisdiction over your case before it can grant your divorce, and each state has specific requirements for jurisdiction. In order to file in Virginia, at least one of the parties must meet the residency requirements of Virginia Code Section 20-97. That section states in part that “no suit for annulling a marriage or for divorce shall be maintainable, unless one of the parties … Read More »
The Virginia Court of Appeals has taken a major step in redefining cohabitation “in a relationship analogous to a marriage” under Virginia Code 20-109(A).
Virginia Code 20-109(A) provides for termination of spousal support “upon clear and convincing evidence that the spouse receiving support has been habitually cohabiting with another person in a relationship analogous to a marriage for one year or more.” That Code provision directs courts to terminate spousal support “unless (i) otherwise provided by stipulation or contract or (ii) the spouse receiving support proves by a preponderance of the evidence that termination of such support would be unconscionable.”
Clients frequently ask what “cohabiting with another person in a relationship analogous to a marriage” means, and how to either avoid such a situation or prove that one exists. Virginia Code 20-109(A) does not provide a definition, so attorneys are left answering … Read More »
When potential clients come in to meet with me, they’re often experiencing a crisis in their lives unlike any other. Many people have expectations about the legal system and their lawyer’s role in healing the wounds of their divorce or custody dispute.
So what can the divorce or custody process do for you and what can’t it do? As you get started, where should your focus be?
Let’s begin with what the judicial process generally can’t do. Unfortunately, if you have been suffering through a difficult time, the legal process will never make you whole again. The judge won’t declare your husband to be a bad person or force a public apology from him. Typically, you will not get the opportunity to convince the judge and your wife’s attorney that you are in a morally superior position. We can’t force your husband … Read More »
In Parts One and Two of this series, we looked at the requirements a former spouse must meet to retain medical coverage through the Tricare program. A 20/20/20 spouse would be eligible for lifetime coverage under Tricare (in addition to other benefits), while a 20/20/15 spouse would be eligible for transitional Tricare coverage for one year. Former spouses who do not qualify as at least 20/20/15 spouses are not eligible for Tricare coverage at all, but they are not left without options.
The Continued Health Care Benefit Program (CHCBP), enacted in 10 U.S.C. 1078a, is available for former spouses who cannot qualify for Tricare coverage under the 20/20/20 or 20/20/15 Rules. The CHCBP offers a COBRA-style program that allows any former spouses who were covered under Tricare on the day before entry of a final divorce decree to pay for continued medical … Read More »
There is an ongoing debate in Virginia as to whether a parent’s mental health records should be admissible in custody and visitation cases. Prior to July 2008, Virginia Code Section 20-124.3:1 specifically provided that the mental health care records concerning a parent in a custody and visitation case are confidential. In 2008, that provision was repealed, and we are now in a period in which a parent will routinely allege that the other parent is practically insane and therefore an unfit parent, and will attempt to prove it by the introduction of what were once confidential medical records.
The question of the admissibility of a parent’s mental health care records features a tug-of-war between a person’s right to confidentiality and the court’s duty to act in the best interest of the child. The question is complicated by Virginia Code Section 8.01-399, which acknowledges that … Read More »
In Part One of this series, we looked at the 20/20/20 Rule and the requirements a former spouse must meet to retain full military benefits and privileges upon divorce from a servicemember. In the event a former spouse cannot qualify under the 20/20/20 Rule, he or she may still be eligible to retain a portion of their military benefits as they transition from being a military spouse to a former spouse.
To qualify for transitional military benefits, a former spouse must satisfy the requirements of 10 U.S.C. § 1072(2)(G), more commonly referred to as the “20/20/15 Rule.” The 20/20/15 rule requires the former spouse to show three things: first, that the servicemember put in at least 20 years of creditable service; second, that the parties’ marriage lasted at least 20 years; and third, that the period of the marriage overlapped the period … Read More »