When a party paying child support or spousal support dies, those payments end with the payor's death. Thus, if you are receiving support, it is quite legitimate to consider what might happen if the payor dies before the term of support would otherwise naturally end. This may be especially important to consider where your children have special financial needs, or if you agreed to receive a greater amount of spousal or child support in lieu of other money or property. Alternatively, if you are paying child support and the other parent passes away, such that you become your child(ren) primary custodian, your living expenses could increase dramatically. Fortunately, Virginia law provides a "Plan B" to protect parties in those catastrophic circumstances.
In Virginia, there are two broad categories of contested divorces: fault-based divorce and no-fault divorce. Virginia recognizes several grounds on which one can obtain a divorce based on specific bad behavior by the other spouse. A divorce based on one of these fault grounds may confer certain legal and procedural benefits upon the spouse seeking the divorce. At the beginning of the divorce process, a fault ground will permit you to file immediately, rather than having to wait a year to file for a no-fault divorce. In the longer term, proving a divorce based on a fault ground can impact the division of property and can bar the guilty spouse from collecting spousal support.
A question often asked in a custody/visitation matter is: "How old does my child have to be in order to tell the judge what he/she wants?" The simple answer is that there is no minimum age requirement. Virginia law expressly provides that any child, who is of reasonable age, intelligence and experience, is deemed to be competent to testify as to his/her preferences regarding custody or visitation issues. Of course, the amount of weight that the presiding judge is likely to give such testimony will tend to increase with the age of the child witness.
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.
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.
In Virginia, if the divorce is based on one spouse's adulterous behavior, the cheating spouse is normally precluded from receiving spousal support by statute.
No spouse enjoys being required to pay monthly spousal support to the other spouse. The inevitable claim is that the recipient spouse is either voluntarily unemployed or under-employed. In other words, the recipient spouse is intentionally not getting a job, or not earning to his/her capability, thereby requiring the employed spouse to pay an unreasonably large amount of support.
Virginia law offers remedies to those who fear for their or their children's physical safety due to the behavior of a family or household member. Should you find yourself in such a position, you may ask the court for a family abuse protective order, which offers significant protection against the abuse or threat that you face.
Assuming that circumstances dictate that one spouse pay spousal support (i.e., alimony) to the other spouse, then Virginia law authorizes judges to order that such support be payable either: (1) indefinitely (commonly referred to as "permanent alimony"); or (2) for a defined duration (commonly referred to as "limited alimony").