Family law encompasses many issues affecting families, including but not limited to divorce, child custody and visitation, child and spousal support, protective orders, pre/post-nuptial agreements and equitable distribution. With so much information on the internet, it may be difficult to get accurate answers about certain issues. Below, we debunk four common myths of family law in Virginia.
Myth #1: once a divorce is filed, the court cannot grant any relief until the end of the case.
This is false: circuit courts can grant temporary relief while a divorce suit is pending. Once a divorce suit is filed in circuit court, either party may file a motion for “pendente lite” (pending final resolution) relief. Pursuant to Virginia Code § 20-103, the court may then enter a pendente lite order:
to compel a spouse to pay monies necessary for the maintenance and support of the petitioning … Read More »
When you petition the court for child support, one of the things the court asks for is the address of both parents. So, what do you do if you don’t know where the other parent is? A parent is not relieved of his or her parental responsibilities merely because he or she can’t be located. However, not knowing the parent’s location may make it difficult for the court to enter an order, and even more difficult for the court to enforce an order.
For every child support case in Virginia, the court is required to serve the opposing party with notice of the petition for support and a summons for the date of the hearing. For a cost, a private investigator can be used to find the most recent addresses for the opposing party. Then, you can list the most reliable … Read More »
For purposes of calculating child support, the Virginia Child Support Guidelines take into account each parent’s gross income. Virginia Code § 20-108.2(C) defines “gross income” as “income from all sources,” including but not limited to:
income from salaries, wages, commissions, royalties, bonuses, dividends, severance pay, pensions, interest, trust income, annuities, capital gains, social security benefits except as listed below, workers’ compensation benefits, unemployment insurance benefits, disability insurance benefits, veterans’ benefits, spousal support, rental income, gifts, prizes or awards.
§ 20-108.2(C) further provides that “[g]ross income shall be subject to deduction of reasonable business expenses for persons with income from self-employment, a partnership, or a closely held business.”
Pursuant to this code section, Virginia courts have consistently deducted expenses associated with rental properties from the rental income on those properties in calculating gross income. Some of the expenses commonly deducted include: mortgage payments, taxes, insurance, … Read More »
It is not uncommon for people undergoing divorce to approach their attorneys with a laundry list of terms regarding their children that they would like included in their separation agreement, or for people who already divorced to approach attorneys with child-related terms of an existing separation agreement which they need enforced. What many people are surprised to hear is that some of those terms which they would like included, or some of the terms that may already be in their agreement, are actually unenforceable under Virginia law.
The first thing to understand in this area is that provisions in agreements regarding child custody, visitation and child support are always modifiable based upon a material change in circumstances. Always! So, any provision in an agreement which indefinitely prohibits the modification of custody, visitation or child support would be unenforceable.
Secondly, there are plenty of … Read More »
Sole vs. Split vs. Shared Child Support Guidelines
Virginia law recognizes the obligation of parents to support their children financially, and the Virginia child support guidelines account for that fact. The guidelines take into account the gross incomes of the parties, health insurance expenses incurred for the children, work-related childcare costs, and support of other children who were not born between the parties. Because both parents are financially responsible to and for their children, each parent is made responsible for a certain percentage of the whole child support amount determined under the guidelines, with the whole child support amount equaling what the parents would be able to provide for the children in the event the family still resided in one household.
Virginia has different child support guidelines for sole, split and shared custody arrangements. Each guideline is different and takes into account a … Read More »
For single parents of children with a disability or special needs, navigating the issue of child support can be a confusing and anxiety-ridden process. These parents may require more child support than is called for by the statewide guidelines in Virginia, and may require child support well past the time child support usually ends. A proper understanding of several points of Virginia law can greatly assist these parents in meeting the special needs of their children.
Deviation From Guidelines
The starting point for determining child support in all Virginia cases is Virginia Code § 20-108.2, which sets forth statewide child support guidelines. The guidelines provide a child support amount based on the incomes of the parties and any costs incurred for health care coverage and work-related child care. While such a straightforward formula may be appropriate under ordinary circumstances, custodial parents of children with a disability … Read More »
Divorce and child custody proceedings are often contentious, time consuming and expensive. It is understandable that parties to litigated divorce or child support cases would never want to see a courtroom again, or even think about having to reopen old wounds. The reality is, however, that parties who want to adjust child support need to follow certain steps and procedures, because the consequences for not doing so can be severe.
Pursuant to Virginia Code § 20-108, Virginia courts have the authority to revise and alter prior orders concerning the custody, care and maintenance of a child or children and make new orders, “as the circumstances of the parents and benefit of the children may require.” The amount of child support ordered by a judge may be increased or decreased at any time based on a “material change of circumstances.”
Parties seeking a modification of … Read More »
When most people hear the phrase “teen pregnancy,” they think only of the teenage mothers. But, there are also teenage fathers. Under the law in Virginia, a teenage boy can be determined by the court to be the father of a child, and can be ordered to pay child support for that baby. In proceedings to establish paternity, establish a child support obligation or enforce a child support obligation, teenage boys cannot escape the court’s ruling because of their age.
Pursuant to Virginia Code Section 20-49.6, a teenage boy between 14 and 18 years of age can be determined by the court to be the father of a child and ordered by the court to pay child support for that child as if he were an adult, if (1) the teenage boy is represented by a guardian ad litem, and (2) the teenage boy has … Read More »
A child support order has been established obligating one parent, called the obligor, to pay child support for the benefit of the child. Time has passed and the obligor has not paid the child support, has not paid it consistently or has only paid a portion of the ordered amount. What next?
Unpaid child support, called an “arrearage” or “back child support,” becomes a judgement by operation of law, and cannot be set aside, changed or discharged in bankruptcy. If the obligor is not paying the ordered amount of child support, a Motion to Show Cause can be filed that requires the obligor to appear in court for a hearing to explain to the judge why he or she should not be held in contempt of court for failing to pay as ordered. Contempt of court for failure to pay can … Read More »
The rules for establishment of paternity vary greatly in Virginia depending on whether a child is born to a married or unmarried mother.
Establishment of Paternity of a Child Born to a Married Mother
A child born to a married woman in Virginia is presumed to be the child of her husband, so long as they were married for the ten months preceding the birth of the child. The husband is the “presumptive father” of the child, with the same responsibility for child support as a “legal father” (one who has been proven to be the father of a child).
However, the presumption of paternity in Virginia is rebuttable. In other words, the husband has the opportunity to prove that he is not the father despite the fact that he was married to the mother at the time of birth.
There are many ways … Read More »