Leesburg, Virginia Divorce Blog

Things to know about child custody in Virginia

In 2020, many Virginia parents will file for divorce. Those doing so may find themselves entangled in legal proceedings regarding child custody issues. In this state, rulings on such issues are handed down in a Juvenile Domestic Relations District Court. While the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) promotes uniformity across the country, every state has its own guidelines and regulations regarding such matters as well.

In this state, there are several outcomes available to parents seeking custody, the first of which is a shared legal custody arrangement. This means both parents have authority to make important decisions on behalf of their children. Sole legal custody, on the other hand, leaves decision-making authority with one parent. Physical custody typically refers to the parenting time awarded to each parent by court order. Many parents are able to negotiate these issues directly and then submit a proposed agreement to the court to include in its custody order. 

Should you consider a postnuptial agreement?

No one gets married assuming the marriage will end in divorce at some point in the future. Virginia couples often forgo the opportunity to draft a prenuptial agreement because they assume their marriage will last or they do not have the wealth or assets to necessitate this type of legal protection. In reality, these agreements can benefit everyone, regardless of income level and economic status.

If you did not draft a prenuptial agreement before marriage, you still have options available to you. You may want to consider the benefits of a postnuptial agreement. This is a marital contract that offers you protection in case of a divorce in the future. Taking this step is not assuming your marriage will end, but it is simply having things prepared in case of any contingencies.

Know what to expect in Virginia divorce proceedings

As 2019 winds down to a close, many Virginia spouses are making plans and setting goals for the new year. For some, filing for divorce is at the top of the list. Depending on various issues, such as whether there are children involved, the income level of each spouse, what types of marital assets and liabilities exist, etc., proceedings may be rather simple or highly complex. Either way, ending a marriage is typically a stressful experience, and not knowing what to expect during divorce proceedings can make things worse.

If you and your spouse are willing to amicably discuss related issues in order to reach an agreement, you may be able to settle your divorce without going to court. If that is not a viable option, litigation may be necessary. No matter which specific legal path is chosen, it pays to be as prepared as possible to avoid complications.

Actress Julianne Reeves asking for more money in divorce

When a married couple ends their relationship, there is often an unbalanced set of circumstances between the two spouses regarding finances. In Virginia and elsewhere, divorce can definitely spark financial challenges, and in cases where one spouse earns a much greater income than the other, it is not uncommon for the lesser-earning spouse to request spousal support or child support if the spouses are parents together. A case that continues to unfold in another state involves actress Julianne Reeves and her ex, who is an executive at an elevator construction company.

Reeves says her child's father earns approximately $250,000 per year while her income as an actress is unpredictable and unreliable. She has reportedly made some serious accusations against her ex, including that he is abusive, uses drugs and has committed numerous financial crimes. The man's attorney says none of that is true and that Reeves has been dishonest about her own financial situation.

Divorce can spark emotional, financial and legal problems

When married spouses in Virginia or elsewhere decide to go their separate ways, it often prompts changes in all aspects of their lives. Whether a spouse is the one who initially files for divorce, and even if he or she thinks the idea is a good one, most people find themselves in a great swirl of emotion, as well as other challenging situations associated with their marital breakups. Knowing where to seek support is key to coping in a healthy, productive manner.

There is no specific right way to process one's emotions in these circumstances. However, recognizing that feelings may change, sometimes abruptly, from one day to the next is a first step toward healing. It is common to feel angry, sad, confused or worried, especially if the marriage lasted a long time. It is also okay to feel happy, relieved or even excited about the future.

Child custody: Is a holiday exchange your best option?

Virginia parents who have recently navigated divorce may be worried about the upcoming holiday season. Especially if the co-parents in question tend to disagree about child custody issues, finding a "new normal" for how a particular family celebrates holidays and special occasions after divorce may be quite challenging. Holidays can be stressful even for married couples, so when a marriage breaks up, parents are wise to try to agree on a plan that keeps children's best interests in mind and stress levels as low as possible.

In addition to children and parents, extended family members are also affected by divorce. It is best if the parents discuss things ahead of time, then inform the rest of the family on how the agreed-upon arrangement will unfold. Some parents decide to spend holidays together, so that neither parent has to be away from his or her children.

Where to seek support for complex Virginia child custody issues

When Virginia couples divorce, they must resolve a number of issues before the court can issue a final decree. Such issues typically refer to property division matters, as well as alimony, child support (if spouses have children) and child custody topics. The latter can spark contention between spouses if they disagree about what is best for their children.

Agreeing to terms regarding your children's future lives after divorce is an intensely personal process. It pays to have an experienced family law advocate on your side, especially if you anticipate problems. For instance, if you believe your spouse's presence is a detriment to your children's well-being, an attorney can help you gather evidence and present your case in court.

What kind of financial support will you get in your divorce?

The financial changes brought by a divorce are significant. The end of a marriage will require both parties to adjust to changes in their retirement savings, disposable income and their lifestyle expectations. This is not always easy to manage, especially for a spouse who does not work or earns significantly less than his or her partner.

This is why sometimes a court will grant spousal support. This is a type of financial support paid by the higher-earning spouse to the lesser-earning spouse to offset the economic inequity brought about by a divorce. These payments may be made for a “finite duration." A specific term or number of years or for an “indefinite duration.” If you believe you have a rightful claim to these payments, you will want to take steps to understand exactly how it works.

Reasons many Virginia spouses decide to divorce

It is not uncommon for married couples in Virginia and elsewhere to experience ups and downs in their relationships. Raising children, lack or surplus of money, extended family matters, employment and other life issues can take a serious toll on a marriage. There are some problems that are reportedly the most frequently cited reasons for divorce.

As one might guess, infidelity is at the top of most lists regarding why married couples file for divorce. It is understandable that a spouse who learns his or her partner has cheated would feel betrayed and angry and perhaps decide that the damage done on the marriage is irreparable. Nearly as prevalent as extra marital affairs, arguing about finances is another big problem issue that often leads to break-ups.

Infidelity alleged in Ilhan Omar's divorce

By the end of this year, many married couples in Virginia will be among others across the country who end thier marriages. Which spouse files for divorce often depends on individual circumstances. In many cases, such as a recent court filing by freshman Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, infidelity is alleged.

Omar's professional life often makes headlines. Her career in the U.S. Congress has sparked controversy. In fact, there have reportedly been threats against the congresswoman's life. Now, it is her personal life that is a central focus of media attention, as she recently filed for divorce from her husband, with whom she has three children.

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