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 »
This past Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed House Resolution 4282, which puts the the United States one step closer to the easier and more effective collection of child support payments from parents living abroad. The International Child Support Recovery Improvement Act of 2012, passed unanimously by the House, provides key language that will allow the U.S. and individual states to implement the terms of the 2007 Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance.
As reported by WTOP and other outlets (via the Associated Press):
The 2007 Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance has been signed by the United States, the European Union and several other mostly European countries, including Ukraine, Albania, Norway and Bosnia and Herzegovina. So far, only Norway has ratified it.
Under federal law, ratification of … Read More »
Former NBA Player Seeks Spousal Support from Wife
When professional athletes are involved in separation and divorce cases, spousal support is often a key issue. Typically it is the non-player spouse seeking support from the pro athlete. In an interesting twist, however, TMZ.com recently reported that former NBA player Charlie Bell has filed a request for spousal support from his estranged wife, Kenya Bell:
Former NBA player Charlie Bell — who filed for divorce from Kenya [Bell] earlier this year — filed legal docs, claiming he’s been low on cash ever since the NBA dropped him last year. Charlie’s been playing pro ball internationally ever since, but the money’s just not the same — not nearly.
Charlie concedes he’s got over a mil in the bank, but claims Kenya’s the one who’s hit it big with her role on ‘Basketball Wives’ … 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 »
Remarrying and starting a new family is an exciting time in most people’s lives. Many families have adopted the terms “bonus children” or “bonus parent” to highlight the happiness that comes from an expanding family. Stepparents can and often do take on an important and involved role in children’s lives. Sometimes the stepparent is more involved and a better influence than one of the biological parents. In these situations, many parents want to learn about the possibility and likelihood of the stepparent adopting the child.
Stepparent adoption is the most common type of adoption. The process involves multiple steps which can be executed with relative ease depending on the willingness of the biological parent.
The first step in any stepparent adoption is to address the rights of the biological parent. If the parent has been absent from the child’s life for an extended … 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 »
With a change effective July 1, 2011, Virginia’s protective order statute will now cover persons in dating relationships. The new legislation expands Chapter 9.1 of Title 19.2 of the Virginia Code from “Protective Orders for Stalking” to “Protective Orders.” Chapter 9.1 now applies to “any act involving violence, force, or threat that results in bodily injury or places one in reasonable apprehension of death, sexual assault, or bodily injury,” as provided in a new section:
§ 19.2-152.7:1. Definitions. As used in this chapter: “Act of violence, force, or threat” means any act involving violence, force, or threat that results in bodily injury or places one in reasonable apprehension of death, sexual assault, or bodily injury. Such act includes, but is not limited to, any forceful detention, stalking, criminal sexual assault … or any criminal offense that results in bodily … Read More »
In an ideal world, after the final custody order is entered, all the animosity melts away and families transition seamlessly into their custody arrangement. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. As children grow, parties remarry, and priorities change, you may find that you or your children are no longer happy with your custody order.
Virginia Code § 20-108 requires the party petitioning the court for modification of a custody order to prove that (1) there has been a material change of circumstances since the entry of the last order, and (2) it is in the best interest of the children to modify custody.
The change of circumstances may be either positive or negative. A positive change could be a parent’s remarriage or getting a new job with either a higher salary or more flexible work schedule. A negative change could be a … Read More »