Virginia Family Law
A Blog by Jason A Weis, Esq.
Virginia & Maryland Family Law Attorney

Virginia Family Law – Frequently Asked Questions: More Common Questions


going in circles sign2 150x150 Virginia Family Law   Frequently Asked Questions:  More Common QuestionsI suspect my spouse is hiding assets. What can I do? 

In addition to using the discovery process to gather information from your spouse, your attorney can issue subpoenas and gather information directly from third-parties such as employers and financial institutions.  Additionally, investigators and experts may be employed to gather and analyze other information.  For example, forensic accountants and computer forensics experts are two common experts employed in divorce matters.

 

My circumstances have changed since my divorce was final.  What can I do about this?

The court usually retains jurisdiction over child support, custody and visitation orders even after the divorce is final.  Either spouse may petition the court to modify those orders at a later date by alleging that material change in circumstance has occurred and that the proposed modification would be in the child’s best interests.

My spouse has not been complying with the Court’s Order.  What can I do about this?

In many cases, a spouse can move to enforce a court order by filing a Petition for Rule to Show Cause.  Such petitions typically require the non-compliant spouse to appear before the Ccurt and demonstrate why he/she should not be held in contempt of court for failing to abide by the court’s order.  In many cases, if the non-complaint spouse is found in contempt, the spouse who filed the petition will be awarded his/her attorney’s fees.

My child wants to live with me, but currently lives with my spouse.  Will the court consider my child’s wishes in determining custody?

In Virginia, the “best interests of the child” factors include the reasonable preference of the child, assuming that child is of sufficient age, intellect and maturity to fairly assess what is in his/her best interests.  There is no specific age or criteria of maturity set forth by law.  Usually the court will be more receptive to children as they approach their teen years, but, depending on the facts, a
court may agree to hear from a younger child or refuse to consider the wishes of an older child.

I was granted joint legal and primary physical custody of our child.  I am interested in taking our child and moving out of the area. Can I do this?

Yes, but in most cases you will have to provide your spouse with at least thirty (30) days prior notice of your move.  If your spouse objects to you relocating with the child, a hearing may be held to determine whether the relocation would be in the child’s best interests.

Shortly after our divorce, my ex-wife married a wealthy man.  Can his assets be considered in the calculation of child support?

The income of a new spouse is generally not considered in the child support formula, but it may be relevant to both the child’s needs and your former spouse’s ability to meet her child-related expenses.

My former spouse has remarried and now has another family to support.  Can this impact the child support I am required to receive?

Yes.  If your former spouse has children with his/her new partner, the amount of your child’s support may be modified.

Can I throw my spouse out of the house?

Unless there has been violence or a serious threat of violence in the relationship, a judge may be hesitant to exclude either spouse from the home without a hearing.  After a hearing, however, the judge may order that one party have exclusive use and possession of the residence pending a final disposition of the property.

Can I just throw out my spouse’s stuff?

Yes, but it would not be wise.  You may be found liable for the cost of replacing those items.  Moreover, such behavior may motivate negative by your spouse, place you in a negative light in the judge’s eyes, and/or increase your attorney’s fees.

Can I open my spouse’s mail, including email?

No. If you receive any mail addressed solely to your spouse, it should be forwarded to him/her by you or through your attorney.  It is improper (and may be illegal) for you to open your spouse’s password protected email communications.

Jason A. Weis, Esquire – Curran|Moher P.C. – jweis@curranmoher.com – 3554 Chain Bridge Road, Suite 100, Fairfax, VA 22030 – 571-328-5020

 

Virginia Family Law – Property Settlement Agreements


pen signing document Virginia Family Law   Property Settlement Agreements Property Settlement Agreements (“PSA”), also called Separation Agreements, are typically omnibus, formal legal documents drawn to address the major tenants of an approaching divorce proceeding.  Ideally, these post-marital agreements, tackle all rights and obligations arising from the parties’ marriage to one another.  Those rights include, among other things, custody and visitation, child and spousal support and property division.   

 Married parties are free to contractually agree upon a resolution of their marital obligations at any time.  Their agreement need not be formal; a “back-of-the-napkin” agreement may prove just as enforceable as a professionally drafted agreement.  To be clear, however, PSAs are contracts and the same rules generally applicable to contracts apply to determine whether a PSA is valid.  In most cases, where an agreement is complete on its face and unambiguous in its terms, a court will uphold it unless fraud, duress or unconscionability exists.

The vast majority of divorce cases resolve with the signing of a PSA.  Why? 

  • The parties have the clearest sense of why their relationship ended and may best recognize how to serve not only their individual interests, but also the interests of their children.

 

  • The parties may appreciate how marital property was acquired or maintained and have equitable notions about how that property should be divided, notwithstanding what the law may provide. 

 

  • Compromise on both sides as directed by the parties (as opposed to a court) may yield an agreement both parties are more likely to honor.  Keep in mind that often the best agreements are those where neither party is particularly happy.

 

  • PSAs offer the prospect of a quick and cost-effective resolution to marital discord, particularly when compared with contested litigation.

 

  • PSAs can be incorporated into divorce decrees, which allows a court to enforce them by way of its contempt power.

 

  • PSAs allow the parties to reach agreements beyond what a court might be willing to address during litigation such as continuation of spousal and child support beyond statutory guidelines or inclusion of detailed visitation, communication and conduct guidelines. 

Though every agreement is separate and distinct, attorney written agreements often incorporate scads of boilerplate provisions that near-universally apply.  At Curran|Moher,P.C., our firm PSA language is quite lengthy; it is the product of continuous optimization and revision, made over the course of several decades of family law practice.  Over the weeks to come, I will address specific provisions that you might consider including in your PSA.  If you have questions about the drafting of a property settlement agreement, please feel free to drop me a line.

Jason A. Weis, Esquire – Curran|Moher P.C. – jweis@curranmoher.com – 3554 Chain Bridge Road, Suite 100, Fairfax, VA 22030 – 571-328-5020

















About

My experience and background reflect the hallmarks of success one must demand of a lawyer in Northern Virginia's legal landscape.  As a native of this area, I have here focused my practice on providing sound and balanced representation to clients navigating the difficult legal waters of family law, including contested divorce, custody, visitation, spousal and child support, and equitable distribution.  More >>>

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Jason A. Weis, Esquire
Curran Moher Weis
10300 Eaton Place, Suite 520
Fairfax, Virginia 22030

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Phone: (571) 328-5020

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Thank you for taking the time to read this blog. I hope you find the information here as enjoyable to read as I find to write. Please note that reading this blog does not create a legal relationship between you and Jason A. Weis, Esquire or any other attorney associated with familylawva.com. Moreover, all postings on this blog are merely attorneys' commentary on the state of family law in the Commonwealth of Virginia. THE POSTINGS ARE NOT LEGAL ADVICE – if you have a legal issue or question, I strongly encourage you to contact a lawyer. I would be pleased to refer you to someone if I am able.