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Practice Areas

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Divorce

Contested Divorce:

A divorce is considered contested when an agreement has not been reached on all issues.  This usually requires the parties to attend one or more hearings in front of a judge to present their evidence so the judge can make a final decision.

Uncontested Divorce:

A divorce is considered uncontested when the parties have agreed on all issues or there are no issues to be decided.  Typically, when the parties have agreed on all issues, they enter into a written agreement. 

Military Divorce:

A military divorce can have unique issues that may require an attorney having particular knowledge in order to properly represent a service member or the spouse of a service member in a divorce. 

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Custody

Custody:

There are two types of custody:  Legal and Physical.  Legal custody refers to medical, educational, and similar decisions relating to children and legal custody can be either sole or joint.  Physical custody refers to where children will reside and this can be primary, shared, or joint.  Primary custody means that the children reside the majority of their time with one parent.  Shared custody means the children reside with both parents, but not necessarily on an equal basis.  Joint custody means that the children reside with both parents an equal amount of time. 

 

Visitation/Parenting Time:

When one parent has primary physical custody, the other parent has visitation with the children.  Visitation is also referred to as parenting time.  When parents share physical custody or have joint physical custody, their time with the children is referred to as parenting time.  If the parties are unable to agree on the terms for custody and visitation/parenting time, the Court considers the factors set forth in §20-124.3 of the Code of Virginia to determine what custodial schedule is in the best interest of the children.

 

Paternity:

If there is any question about who is the biological father of a child, a petition can be filed to establish the paternity of the child.  The petition can be filed by the mother or the alleged father

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Third Party Custody or Visitation: 

Third parties may petition a court for custody or visitation of a child.  Third parties can include but are not limited to grandparents, step-parents, siblings, aunts, uncles or close family friends.  Obtaining these rights vary depending on the factors, including but not limited to family dynamics, and prior involvement with the child. 

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Support

Child Support:

When a couple has a child and they no longer live together, one or both parents can file a petition for child support.  Child support is determined by a formula which takes into consideration the gross income of the parties; the medical, dental and/or vision insurance costs for the child; the work-related childcare costs; and the number of children of the parties.  If either party has a child from another relationship, that also is factored into the child support calculation.   The amount of child support is governed by §20-108.2 of the Code of Virginia.

 

Spousal Support:

When a married couple separates, one of the parties may need support from the other, especially when there is a significant difference in their incomes.  This is called spousal support (a.k.a. alimony).  Spousal support can be requested in a divorce proceeding or by filing a petition in the juvenile and domestic relations district court.  After a hearing, a court may enter a temporary order for support.  If it orders this, the court later will have a full trial to determine if more permanent support should be ordered.  The Court takes into consideration numerous factors (set forth in §20-107.1 of the Code of Virginia) when determining spousal support. 

 

Medical Support:

Under Virginia law, a court has the authority to order a parent to maintain medical, dental and/or vision insurance coverage for the parties’ children, and in some cases for a spouse.  Virginia law also requires that the parties divide any medical expenses not covered by insurance in proportion to their incomes.  Also, if a mother petitions for support within six months of the child’s birth, the Court can order the parties to pay, in proportion of their incomes, for the unpaid medical expenses related to the mother’s pregnancy and delivery of the child. 

 

Arrears:

The term “arrears” generally refers to an amount of money accrued and owed for child support or spousal support.  If a parent fails to pay support pursuant to a court order and arrears accrue, the other parent can ask a court to hold them in contempt of court by filing a show cause. 

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Agreements

Pre-Marital Agreement:

Often called a “pre-nup,” an engaged couple may want to enter in an agreement to outline their assets and debts as of the date of their marriage, to outline how incomes will be used or classified during the marriage, to outline how assets may be divided in the event of a divorce or death and to outline whether spousal support will be paid in the event of a divorce.  

 

Post-Marital Agreement:

Often called a “post-nup,” a married couple may find it wise to enter into an agreement after they are married to address how certain assets or obligations will be divided in the event of divorce or death.  However, such an agreement does not necessarily mean that the parties are separating or divorcing. 

Separation Agreement:

This is the term often used to identify a written agreement entered into by parties who have separated or are separating and who intend to divorce.  Such an agreement typically addresses issues such as custody, visitation, child support, spousal support, property distribution, debt payments and insurance.

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Adoption

Adult Adoption:

An adult adoption is where one or more parties adopt an individual who is over the age of eighteen.  Consent is required only by adoptee.

Agency Adoption:

An agency adoption is where a child is placed in the care and legal custody of a licensed child placing agency. After a period of time, that child is able to be adopted by the adoptive parents.

Direct Parental Adoption:

A direct parental adoption is also known as an independent or open adoption.   We represent adoptive parents or birth parents regarding an adoption plan in which the child is placed directly with the intended adoptive parent(s) and  the parties meet with a licensed social worker to exchange identifying information and discuss future contact.

Step-parent Adoption:

A step-parent adoption is where the spouse of a biological parent desires to adopt a step child.

Interstate Adoption:

An Interstate adoption is where adoptive parents may reside in one state and have made an adoption plan with a Virginia birth mother. Another form of an interstate adoption is where adoptive parents reside in Virginia and are working with a birth mother of child to be born in another state.

Relative adoption:

A relative adoption is where the adoptive parents are related to the child. Virginia law recognizes a large group of people as relatives.

Foreign Adoption:

A type of a foreign adoption is when adoptive parents re-finalize an adoption from a foreign country.  Supervision must have occurred in previous six months or year.

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Other Services

Name Change:

For adults, you can change your name by filing a petition with the circuit court in the city/county where you reside.  If the name change is being requested in conjunction with a divorce, no separate petition is required.  For children, often a petition must be filed and good cause shown for the change.  If one parent objects, a court must determine whether the change is in the best interest of the child.

Show Cause:

When a party to a court order fails to abide by the terms of the order, a petition can be filed requesting that the party be required to “show cause” for why they have violated the order.  If the party does not have a good cause for the violation, they can be found in contempt and ordered to perform the specific duties of the order, to pay fines, and even go to jail.

 

Retirement Orders:

Retirement plans are typically divided in a divorce.  However, retirement plans can also be divided for payment of support as well.  When the division of a retirement plan is ordered, a specific court order must be entered for the division to take place.  The type of order required to divide a retirement plan varies depending on the type of retirement plan being divided.  Particular knowledge usually is required to determine which type of order is necessary and the type of terms which need to be included in that order. 

 

Agreed Orders:

At any time prior to a court making a ruling, the parties can reach an agreement on some or all of the issues, and submit an order to the court that embodies the agreed terms.

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