Divorce in Virginia is governed by "Equitable Distribution," which requires that a Judge first determine which of the parties' various assets and property rights are "marital" in nature. Then, the Judge decides the fair, or equitable, manner of dividing those assets/property rights, based upon various statutory factors.
Going through a divorce naturally results in a multitude of life changes, both individually as a person and collectively as a family. A good example of such changes is the handling of health insurance for spouses and children. In most cases, the entire family receives health insurance through one of the spouse's employer-sponsored health plans or through an insurance exchange, with the constant variable being that there is one plan. Naturally, for both legal and practical reasons, that must change during a divorce.
A party losing their employment, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, can have earth-shattering ramifications for a divorce at any stage, whether during the divorce process or after a divorce decree has already been entered. This is particularly true where spousal support or child support is being paid by one party to the other. Typically, a loss of employment income can be a trigger for a reduction of those support amounts, as the payor will claim they do not have sufficient income to pay support at the same level. Where the loss of employment is involuntary, such a request may well be granted. However, the payor receiving a severance from their employer could change that outcome in several ways.
The process of formal Mediation has evolved into a very popular, and hugely successful, alternative to divorce litigation. No doubt, the rise in using Mediation to resolve divorce and custody issues, can be attributed, in great measure, to economic considerations. The act of settling a divorce case, or a custody dispute, through Mediation, results in a savings to each party of tens of thousands of dollars that each would incur in litigating those same issues through the court system.
Fact Pattern . . . Kristin and Tom were married in 1995. In 2011, Tom and his college roommate, Bill, formed "T&B, LLC," for the purposes of buying an office building in Fairfax. Throughout the years, tenants came and went; however, the building consistently averaged a rental rate of 80+%. Tom realized an average income from the LLC, for the past ten (10) years, of $400,000. Kristin and Tom began experiencing marital difficulties; separated from each other in July of 2016; and, are proceeding toward a divorce.Quere . . . How is Kristin's interest in the office building determined?
It is an extremely common practice for husbands and wives to execute simple Wills, during their marriage, providing that everything they each own should pass to the other spouse upon death. The Wills are often mirror images of each other; and, so long as the marriage remains strong, there generally is no problem.However, if the love and mutual trust, that is inherent in a successful marriage, begins to weaken, there is absolutely nothing in the law that prevents one spouse from deciding that he/she wants to dispose of his/her estate in a different manner, i.e., leave the money or property to someone other than his/her spouse. There is no legal requirement that the unsuspecting spouse be given any notice at all of this intended change in Wills.
Under Virginia law, neither parent has any legal obligation to pay for a child's college education. Whether a moral obligation to do so exists, is another matter not addressed herein. Therefore, if you find yourself in Court, litigating your divorce issues, then you can feel confident that the presiding judge cannot, and will not, order that either parent pay to send a child to college.
There is nothing like a divorce to make normally rational people act irrationally; to make the peaceful person become combative; and, to make the sensible individual tend to lose all touch with reality. It is truly amazing to watch two people, who earlier in their lives had been deeply in love with each other, go out of their way to intentionally inflict humiliation, anguish and emotional pain on each other. All of this is done, seemingly, without concern over the fact that they are depleting their wealth accumulated over years of marriage, over a fight that is most often completely unnecessary, and easily avoided.
In many areas of this country, divorce attorneys are "a dime a dozen." Indeed, there are several hundred divorce attorneys in Northern Virginia alone. As expected, some of these attorneys are more experienced than others. Some are more comfortable litigating the matter in court, while others prefer to focus on an amicable settlement of the case. Some attorneys prioritize communication with their clients, while others become "incommunicado" for long stretches of time. Some present a calming and sensitive demeanor towards their clients' difficulties, yet others can be cold, gruff and, seemingly, disinterested in their clients' needs.
It is not uncommon, especially in Northern Virginia, for couples to come into their marriage owning certain property, including real estate, bank accounts, investments and more. When it comes to determining what happens to that property during divorce, it doesn't necessarily follow that the spouse who owned it before the marriage gets to keep all of it.