Virginia family law cases can look very different from each other because of the range of potential issues and pitfalls that exist whenever touchy issues like divorce or child custody are involved. Whether getting divorced, determining child custody, arranging child support, or dealing with other issues including adoption or spousal support (alimony), the parties involved can become confused and overwhelmed. Virginia family law attorneys help with these sensitive issues, handling cases within the Virginia family court system.
Dissolving a marriage requires dealing with property division and possibly even spousal support. Divorces take many forms, including those based on marital misconduct and those resulting from a voluntary agreement to separate. Couples with children must also arrange physical and legal custody of the minor children. All of this can be a daunting process for someone who is not a legal expert.
Virginia Divorce Help and Advice
Virginia divorce law permits both no-fault divorce (sometimes called “separation divorce”) following a period of living apart as well as fault divorce, which is based on proven misconduct such as adultery, willful abandonment, or reasonable fear of bodily harm. A fault divorce can be complex because defenses are available and proof of fault may affect property division or an alimony award. In Virginia, if each party to a divorce agrees on all issues and the case is simple, the couple may represent themselves.
The Virginia divorce process is initiated when one spouse files a complaint with a Virginia Circuit Court in the county where either of the two spouses resides. The complaint includes basic details regarding the marriage, the grounds for divorce (usually “no fault” grounds), and details regarding children resulting from the marriage. The complaint and a legal notice called a summons are delivered to the other spouse by a third party, most normally by the County Sheriff’s office.
A Virginia family lawyer can help a spouse file this complaint and once the divorce process is underway, provides additional legal guidance and assistance during the steps that follow. If the couple is able to avoid entering a courtroom, the divorce is likely to be less time-consuming and expensive. However, legal advice from a Virginia divorce professional is always recommended because divorce decisions have long-term consequences for all parties involved.
Most people believe that when matters are contested, each party should retain a separate lawyer and work through dividing property and negotiating other arrangements such as custody and child support if children are involved. No fault divorces can be completed with a family law professional wo can assist in preparing paperwork for you while a fault based divorce probably requires a Virginia family law attorney so that the fault grounds can be proven in court with the proper evidence necessary.
Virginia Child Custody Help
When determining Virginia child custody and child visitation, Virginia family law courts adhere to the popular standard of what is in the best interests of the child. This “best interests of the child” standard includes numerous factors for making a final determination as to which parent should have physical or legal custody over the children. Judges normally try to issue orders that involve the least amount of change to the lifestyle of the child. At the same time, they want each parent to maintain a relationship with the child to keep the child’s life as consistent as possible. As a result, they typically promote shared responsibility for childrearing.
Virginia courts consider characteristics of both the child and the parents when making a child custody decision. The court also investigates the relationship that the child has with each parent and the role that each parent plays in the life of the child. Parent-to-parent behavior is also considered, so parents should avoid disparaging each other or interfering with child visitation during a separation. A nasty group of text messages can be shown to the judge which could mean the difference between winning custody or losing it, so it is important to always be the bigger person and not let your anger get the better of you with the other parent.
Virginia family law statutes were written in a way that encourages parents to determine child custody and visitation schedules on their own with help from a mediator or family lawyer. The drafting of a formal Parenting Plan is normally the final thing that a judge enters in a child custody case, which deals with custody, visitation, holiday and vacation schedules, and other things related to the children. The Parenting Plan is then submitted to the judge for final review and approval. If parents cannot agree on all aspects of a Parenting Plan, they may ask the judge for assistance. As long as parents generally cooperate, the judge will be willing to work with them.
Getting the proper Virginia family law help can prevent parents from resorting to arguing, backstabbing, and other interference during child custody discussions. When parents have trouble resolving an issue, their Virginia child custody attorneys can step in to negotiate on their behalf. Having an objective party tackle the difficult issues often eliminates any disputes and helps the parents forge ahead with a Parenting Plan that suits their needs and is in the best interests of the minor child.
Virginia Child Support Help
In addition to child custody, many parents must discuss child support. Virginia child support law stipulates that both unmarried and married parents are entitled to financial support for childrearing costs. However, only the parent with whom the child lives the majority of the time (the custodial parent) is normally entitled to child support. The child support payment amount is based on the combined parental income and may include costs of healthcare and childcare. Unfortunately, Virginia child support formulas are not easy to follow at all and normally a legal professional, whether it be an attorney or some type of low-cost paralegal service, is often necessary to make the correct calculation.
Virginia law allows both a family court and the state department of social services to issue a child support order. Federal law mandates that the Virginia State Division of Child Support Enforcement typically applies for child support on behalf of a parent who receives Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (known as “TANF Benefits”). However, given that the State of Virginia handles hundreds of thousands of child support matters yearly, it is advisable to seek the assistance of a private legal expert to obtain child support quickly and not find yourself at the mercy of an overworked state program that oftentimes takes more than a year to beginning getting the custodial parent child support.
Virginia child support calculations are complex because income includes more than just paychecks from an employer. For example, spousal support payments and unemployment insurance count as income. Rental income counts as income, and working overtime or getting a second job must also be counted as income. The court must adhere to the calculation guidelines but may go outside of these for rare supported reasons. A Virginia family lawyer or other legal professional can help a client determine the expected amount of child support that they will be receiving or paying.
Virginia Father’s Rights Help
Child custody, visitation, and support discussions tend to make fathers very nervous. For decades, it was a foregone conclusion that mother’s win custody battles. The times, they are a changing, and father’s rights advocates have changed this perception. Because of these efforts, both mothers and fathers deserve the right to have custody of minor children. Virginia Father’s rights are one of the most misunderstood aspects of family law in Virginia. Fathers who represent themselves often make mistakes during custody or support cases, surrendering their rights without realizing it. The outcome would have been much more positive if they had retained an expert Virginia father’s rights lawyer.
Virginia law does not include a preference or presumption in favor of mothers, even though for decades it was virtually impossible for a mother to lose custody. Therefore, fathers are entitled to fight for equal custody and petition for the right to receive child support. Father’s should never sign an unappealing custody or support agreement because the arrangement can be difficult to modify unless a material change of circumstances occurs.
Instead, a father should retain an experienced Virginia family lawyer that specializes in Father’s Rights and enter negotiations well-informed and prepared to fight for what he deserves. His lawyer will define legal terms commonly used in custody and support cases and make him aware of the possible outcomes. Getting yourself prepared for a father’s rights custody battle is essential and preparation, such as seeing developing a good relationship with the child, obtaining adequate living conditions, and attempting to spend as much time with your child prior to the fight beginning is essential to show the court that you care about your child.
What Do I Do Now?
The first step in any type of Virginia family law matter is figuring out what you need to get done and what you intend to accomplish on a personal level before beginning. Do you want custody of a child, an uncontested divorce, a modification of child support, or one of the other many possibilities that exist under the all-encompassing umbrella of “family law”? Once this determination and goal has been made, the next step is to speak with a Virginia family law expert to find out what steps need to be completed when and to get the right level of help for your situation. The worst thing that any individual can do is nothing – this only leads to negative results the longer you wait, and waiting until things come to a head is a sure-fire way to lose your rights or to cost you thousands in a losing battle. Get started right away, get you and your family the Virginia family law rights you deserve by speaking with a legal professional for free today.